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.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Wednesday, October 29, 2008
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!
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Saturday, October 25, 2008
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.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
R.M.S. Titanic, 1912
Millvina Dean and her brother Bertram
When the R.M.S. Titanic hit the iceberg on that awful night in 1912, one of the survivors was a 2 month old baby girl named Millvina Dean. The Dean family were steerage passengers on their way to America where Mr. Dean hoped to open a tobacco shop and find a new start for his family. Mr. Dean did not survive the sinking, but little Millvina, her brother and mother were lowered into a life raft and did survive. After the R.M.S. Carpathia arrived at the site of the sinking and found the Titanic gone, they rescued the survivors from the life rafts and transported them to New York. Millvina and her family never became Americans as her mother decided to return home to England. 96 years later, Millvina is the last survivor of the Titanic disaster. It was reported today that she is selling her Titanic memorabilia, including a 96 year old suitcase full of clothes given to the family after they lost all of their possessions in the disaster, in an attempt to pay her nursing home bill. She has no family left and she never married, so perhaps she's at peace with having to do this. Hearing this today made me really sad, I have to say. We all have to pay our debts and yet I wonder if this poor woman hasn't lost enough already. Sure, she has no memory of that terrible night. But, having to sell off to the highest bidder the remnants of an event that surely and inextricably altered her entire life seems wrong to me. I hope these precious things end up in the hands of a museum instead of in the safe of some uber-wealthy collector who will never allow them to see the light of day. I think it would be nice if the shipping and cruise line giant, Cunard might buy Miss Dean's artifacts. Cunard was the major competitor of White Star (who owned Titanic) and later absorbed the line to become the giant cruise line that they are today. It would be a nice gesture and great publicity for them.
Something about that ship and that night persists in our collective consciousness. I've never been able to put my finger on it. Inevitably, we imagine ourselves in the same impossible situation. I suppose it must also be in part how the rich, first class passengers and the steerage passengers suffered the same fate regardless of their social standing. Of course more of the wealthy passengers survived, but at the same time, captains of industry like Cabots and Astors died along side of working class people like Mr. Dean. Even after the last survivor is gone, I doubt the fascination will easily fade.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Wooly Bear Caterpillar
Isabella Tiger Moth
Paul and I were putting our vegetable garden to bed for the winter this past weekend, when we came across this diminutive little visitor. He is a Wooly Bear Caterpillar and in the spring he will transform into the Isabella Tiger Moth. According to Iowa State University, the Isabella Tiger Moth is one of the conservatively 1500 moth species found in Iowa! Who knew! The Wooly Bear is a sure sign of fall here in Iowa. They are cute and fuzzy, and I found that if they are scared, they poop on your hand! When I was a kid I remember hearing an old wife's tale that said that the wider the stripe on the caterpillar, the longer and harder the winter will be. An article that I found online says that the stripe actually is just an indicator of how mature the caterpillar is. Since this little guys stripe is relatively narrow, I think I choose to believe the wife's tale. There's more romance to it anyway. Speaking of hard winter, I read that these creatures have a natural cryoprotectant (anti-freeze) in their tissues that keeps them from freezing to death in the winter. Isn't nature amazing? Seems like we could use that kind of technology in the human world!
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
A photo of Saturn and her mighty moon, Titan from yesterday
A photo of the rings of Saturn, taken in September 2008
Makes all the name calling seem rather silly, doesn't it?
You know, today with all of the craptacular stuff in the news, I thought we need to be reminded of some of the 'out of this world' things that are larger than all of the mud being slung around. So here are some pictures of Saturn and Titan taken by the fabulous Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft. The Cassini-Huygens project is a joint scientific mission between Nasa, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space agency to study Saturn and it's giant moon, Titan. Umm, foreign governments working together, imagine that! Anyway, this amazing spacecraft entered Saturn's orbit in June of 2004 and began sending images and data back immediately and every day since. Amazing. I may be a geek, but how cool is that? They have fantastic website with new pictures everyday. Check it out here. More evidence that taxes are not evil.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Friday, October 10, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
We have all been affected by cancer. Whether you know someone personally who has or has had cancer or not, we are all touched by it. I made these cute little breast cancer awareness charms as a way to help, in a small way, raise a bit of money for breast cancer research. They are made of fine silver with a fine silver ring attached for hanging. The charms are a little less than 3/4" in diameter. They are $15.00 each and all of the proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society and earmarked for breast cancer research. If you would like one of the charms, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
538. It's just a number. But right now this number is of the utmost importance. 538 is the number of electors in the electoral college. The electoral college is a flawed system to be sure, but it's the law of the land and it's what we have to deal with. While I was surfing, I came across a great website dedicated to analysis of current and past polling and political data to help anyone from the casual politico to the most obsessively, compulsive wonk make sense of it all. The site is aptly called, Five Thirty Eight. If you are interested in the current numbers and state by state breakdowns, this is the site for you. Check it out here.
As every day goes on leading up to the election, I am becoming increasingly nauseated by the innuendo and filth being flung about as if from angry, riotous chimpanzees. Who cares what someone's middle name is or how many houses someone owns? I certainly don't and I'm sorry, but neither should anyone else. It's a good thing there aren't any terrorists named Lucinda, or my middle name could be a liability and scare people away from buying my jewelry! The focus should stay on things that really matter, like the economy, healthcare, the wars, our infrastructure, poverty, energy policy, just to name a few. Just do some reading, don't vote for someone just because you think he seems like a nice man, or you think he's a good dresser, or he's well-spoken, or he reminds you of your dad or any other nonsense. Do some research, get informed, read about policy, think about the issues that are meaningful to society at large and then vote your conscience, for heaven's sake. It's really not that hard.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
I finally cleaned my studio so I could get back to work full force. I hate to admit it, but it was such a mess that I was having trouble keeping my focus! It was so bad that I had a space that was about 18" square to work at on a 6' table! Anyway, it's clean now and I can get back to work getting ready for the two shows that I have before the end of the year. I have been working on bronze lately. I tend to work in bronze for a week or two and then go back to silver. The bronze can contaminate the silver, so it's wise to clean up your tools really well before making the switch. So I tend to work on one at a time so I don't spend as much time cleaning up (which is obviously not my favorite thing!).
I made these pieces yesterday and today and this is how they came out of the kiln. I never stop being amazed at the range of colors that are possible with the bronze clay. Too bad the colors are unpredictable. These pieces haven't been tumbled or even cleaned yet, thus the little bits of carbon that are stuck in the crevices of some of the pieces! When the pieces are cleaned up and brushed with a steel brush or tumbled a bit, some of the intensity of the colors will be muted, but they will still be beautiful.
Lately, I've been carving my own molds, with some instruction from my Dad, who is a great wood carver. I've been really interested in petroglyphs, cave paintings and other ancient forms for a long time. Right now, my mind seems stuck in that area and the mold-carving has a kind of naive quality that seems to work really well for that kind of imagery.
BronzClay is messy, unpredictable, challenging to work with, takes a long time to fire and I love love love it!
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Monday, October 06, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Tonight, Paul and I went to see comedienne Kathy Griffin who performed at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. I have to say, she is one of the funniest people that I've ever heard. No one is safe with Kathy. Not Oprah, not Sarah Palin, not Paris Hilton, not the Lohan's, not even her own mother is safe from ridicule. What I like about Kathy Griffin is that while she is making fun of people (herself included), she's really not mean-spirited. She's merciless, but somehow she manages to humanize the people she ridicules. I think that's really a great talent.
After her show, I was thinking about how tough it must be to be to be a female comic. It really is a male-dominated profession, isn't it? I think a lot of people see female comics, past and present, as shrill and really unlikeable. Comics like Roseanne, Jeanne Garafalo, Phyllis Diller, Rosie O'Donnell, Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey (my personal hero right now!) and Lily Tomlin, among many, many others fit into this category. I wonder how much of this perception is due to the fact that they are women? Is it that these women push the boundaries of some people's preconceived ideas of acceptable female behavior? Is it easier to accept bad language and off-color jokes when they come from men? Is it that being a comic or even just being funny is sort of aggressive and seen as unfeminine and better left to men? Stand up comedy is by it's nature aggressive. You are standing alone on a stage and facing down a large crowd of people who are expecting to be entertained. That takes a healthy ego and a lot of self-assurance. Is this really something our society still can't accept in women?
Wow, lots of questions. And here I thought I was just going to a show for a few laughs................
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Saturday, October 04, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I was really sorry to hear about Steve Fossett today. The wreckage of his plane, along with human remains was finally recovered today in the mountains of California after it's disappearance over a year ago. Fossett was a business man turned adventurer who held many world records in aviation and sailing. He was the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon and the first solo, non-stop, unrefueled flight around the world in a single-engine fixed wing aircraft. He climbed mountains, cross-country skied around the world, raced in the Iditarod, ran marathons and triathlons, along with all of his aviation feats.
I always liked him for his adventurous spirit. I liked that he seemed like an unremarkable guy who attempted to do extremely remarkable things. I guess I knew that he was dead last year when he went missing. I remember reading once that he walked 30 miles in the wilderness after he had to make an emergency landing on one of his flights. I was hoping that somehow he survived and had amnesia or something. Silly, I know. It's just that the world needs all of the people with boundless energy, imagination and 'can do' spirit that it can get right now.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Thursday, October 02, 2008