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
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.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Wednesday, November 26, 2008
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.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Monday, November 24, 2008
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.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Saturday, November 22, 2008
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.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Friday, November 21, 2008
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.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Wednesday, November 19, 2008
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.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Wednesday, November 12, 2008
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.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Monday, November 10, 2008
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.
Posted by Cristina Leonard on Saturday, November 08, 2008
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!