Monday, September 29, 2008


Today, the Dow plunged 778 points, the largest single day drop in history.  Worse than the drop the markets suffered when they reopened after September 11th, 2008.  This happened, of course in the wake of the failure of the bail-out bill.  One trillion dollars was lost today in the stock market.  Now, word is coming in that world markets are dipping sharply in response to the failed bill and the U.S. market plunge.  Now the partisan finger pointing in Washington begins.  It's like these guys have no clue that this crap is affecting real people.  Real people's retirement funds, savings accounts and home values.  If you are near retirement age and looking to use your 401k soon you may be in big trouble.  The value of that account is worth substantially less today than than it was at the close of business on Friday.  Now banks are freezing loans to individuals and small business.  So even if you could find a buyer for your house, they probably couldn't get a loan.  If you have a small business and you need a loan to help you make payroll, or expand your business, too bad!  You're not in the market and have no 401k?  Don't think that you're safe either.  It won't be long before all of this trickles down and really hits the job market hard.  Say you work for a heavy equipment manufacturer.  They sell lots of machinery to Asian countries.  The Asian markets are falling hard right now.  Soon the companies that purchase all of this expensive equipment will be in their own financial trouble and begin canceling purchasing contracts. There goes your job. Tonight I watched the very financially savvy Suze Orman on Anderson Cooper 360.  She fears that we are in trouble for the long haul, specifically until at least 2015.  That's even if we have a bail-out.  I tend to think she is right.  It's only in the news right now, but it took a long time for this mess to happen and it will take a long time to dig our way out.  It's time for these people on both side of the aisle to grow up and remember that they all work for us.  They need to get it together and get this thing done.

Time Magazine has a good article on the consequences of no bail-out will be.  Read it here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


By Karla Bonoff

Traveling at night, the headlights were bright and we'd been up many an hour
and all through my brain came the refrain of home and it's warming fire.
Home sings me of sweet things, my life there has it's own wings to fly over the mountain,
though I'm standing still.
Traveling at night, the headlights were bright, but soon the sun came through the trees. 
Around the next bend the flowers will send the sweet scent of home in the breeze.

Today was the Iowa Homecoming game vs. Northwestern here in Iowa City.  It didn't turn out like we would have liked, Iowa lost 22-17, but it got me thinking about the word 'homecoming'.  I remember when I first left home to come to school here.  I was so homesick at first, I missed my family so much.  I'm lucky to be part of a really close family.  We don't always agree, and sometimes we bicker, but we will always be family.  As time went on, I still missed them, but I began to feel like I belonged here.  I laugh now, about how young and naive I was and how cool I thought I was to be in school here.  I remember, many years later, when I realized that when I talked about going home, I wasn't talking about Mom and Dad's house anymore.  I don't know exactly when it happened, it was probably a gradual thing.  What I do know is that it made me profoundly sad, like I'd lost something that I'd never get back.  Do you remember when this happened to you, or hasn't it yet?  
I grew up in such an idyllic way that I think is largely a thing of the past now.  We grew up out in the country, in an old farm house with miles of corn fields to lose ourselves in and a creek to build dams in and even an old abandoned haunted house down the road to explore, even though we weren't supposed to!  We were free in a way that I suspect most kids today cannot be with the way the world is.  I loved the seemingly endless days of summer, when the our adventures where limited only by our imaginations.  My parents moved to town a few years ago and I'll never again wake up in that old house, but the memory of it is as clear as if I were there now.  
I've lived in other places and I probably will again, but maybe you really can go home again, at least in our memories.

PAUL NEWMAN:1925-2008

An iconic actor, a great husband and father, and a tireless philanthropist.  A good and purposeful life by any standard.  On top of all of those accomplishments, he was so handsome!  I was so sad to hear of Paul Newman's death today.  I will miss him.  Thankfully, his legacy will live on through his family, films and his good works.   

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Tomorrow I'm going to a bead show with some friends.  It is the 6th Annual Bead Bash in Marshalltown, Iowa.  It's at the Best Western Inn at the intersection of Highways 14 and 30.  The show runs September 26-27.  It's a small show, but I like the vendors that show up.  Plus, we don't get many bead shows in our own backyard, so how can you not go?  Last year, I went with Cindi and boy, we had fun!  We found lots of goodies at the show and afterwards we took a little detour to the Mesquakie Casino.  Casinos are a little slice of all that is wrong with America, but man, so fun and so funny too.   I promise photos if we detour there again!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Check out these fun beads made by my friend Stacey.  Stacey is a talented lampworker and she dabbles in metal too!  She's a bit crazy, but we have to forgive her, after all, she is from California (just kidding Stacey!).  Check out more of Stacey's work here:


Lewis and Clark

On this day in 1806, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned from their more than two year journey from the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast and back again.  Before the Louisiana Purchase agreement with France was even set in stone, President Jefferson commissioned an expedition into the largely unknown American northwest (except by the indigenous people already there, of course).  Meriwether Lewis was Jefferson's personal secretary, while Clark was an army captain.  They, along with 28 men and 1 woman (Sacagawea) left Saint Louis on May 14th 1804.  They traveled up the Missouri River and spent their first brutal winter in what is now North Dakota.  As soon as the weather allowed, they crossed Montana and saw the Rockies for the first time.  Can you imagine?  They made it over the mountains and encountered Sacagawea's tribe, the Shoshone.  They traversed the dangerous waters of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers, which lead them into the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean.  On the day that the explorers reached the sea, Lewis' journal entry read,"Ocean in view! Oh! The Joy!".  The expedition suffered only one death, Charles Floyd, who died of appendicitis, near what is now Sioux City, Iowa.  
I think what amazes me most about the expedition isn't what was learned from it, though, that was surely ground breaking.  Because of the expedition, the west was opened, westward expansion occurred, setting the ground work for what America would become.  What I find truly extraordinary was the courage that the whole undertaking took.  First, that Jefferson had the vision and the courage to send these people into the great unknown and the courage that it took for them to go.  Some things are worth every risk.  These people weren't mythic or for the most part extraordinary.  I don't mean to denigrate them by saying this.  The fact that they were somewhat ordinary figures is really inspiring to me.   It makes it seem possible that we can all make a difference in the future of our great country.
The days ahead for this country are going to require this same kind undaunted courage.  Let's hope that we are all ready for the challenge.  America is worth the struggle.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Some of the last of summer's bounty from my garden

Paul and I started doing our fall clean up in the yard this weekend.  We started in the border in front of our vegetable beds because it got away from me this summer and was the most jungle-like part of the yard!  As I was weeding and cutting plants back, I got to thinking about the feeling of urgency that takes over my thoughts this time of year.  The older I get, the stronger this feeling becomes.  I suppose it could be that as I age, I have become more aware that my days are numbered, and that accounts for the sense of urgency.  I think though, that it's something more than that.  I enjoy and appreciate my life a lot more than I did in my 20's and 30's.  Time seems to pass a lot more quickly, but I'm also much more aware of it than I was when I was younger.  I remember when I was a kid, the summer would seem to stretch on forever and when fall arrived, I was always shocked that it was time to go back to school.  I don't have that same wonderful sense of time being endless anymore, instead it's been replaced by an appreciation of the passage of time and the subtle changes that take place before the full flush of autumn arrives.  Fall is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love the colors, the smell of falling leaves, the feeling of the warm sun on my face and the angle of the light on a beautiful, cloudless fall day.  I think what I love most about fall though, is the very fact that it won't last.  Like all beautiful things, if they lasted forever, we could never miss them when they are gone.


These are the lentils from Thursday night's class after they have been fired.  Aren't they great?  Pictures don't really do them justice, they are even better in person.  These were tumbled for a couple of hours so they are nice and strong.  They will be even nicer once they are patinaed with liver of sulfur.  Well done guys!  Thanks for the photo, Jeanne!

Friday, September 19, 2008


Lentil beads from last nights class.

A couple of more lentils waiting to be fired.

Julie brought cake for after class.  Jealous?

Last night, I taught a class where we made hollow, lentil-shaped focal beads.  Everyone did really well, as you can see.  I should have pictures of the finished products tomorrow and I'll try to post them.  Classes are always fun, but I really like it when I have a class full of repeat students like I did last night.  We already have a sort of short-hand with each other and that makes for a relaxed class.  Thank you Tami, Nancy, Bonnie, Julie and David!  I hope to see you in class again soon!
Also, thanks to Julie for the mind-altering after class treat.  It was heavenly!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


The I-35 bridge in the Twin Cities on August 1, 2007

The new bridge early this morning

The I-35W bridge that crosses the Mississippi reopened today after more than a year of construction.  This bridge is one of the busiest in America, connecting the Twin Cities to the southern suburbs and beyond.  This was such a shock to me when it happened.  I can't tell you how many times we've crossed that bridge on the way to football games, shopping, visiting family, etc.  
Now, I'm sorry to say that I'm shocked that this isn't happening all over the country.  In 2006, the Federal Highway Administration said in a report, that 1/4 of of the nation's 600,000 bridges were at risk.  The American Society of Civil Engineers reported that it would take 10 billion dollars a year, every year, for 20 years to fix them.   These reports were made two years ago, surely it can only be worse now.  The Bush administration says that sometime in the next fiscal year the nation's highway fund will be at zero.  This means no bridges will be maintained or repaired unless the states can find the money in their own budgets to fund them.  Unlikely to happen as most state budgets are stretched to the breaking point already.  I can't conceive of how Iowa will pay for it's many bridge repairs on it's own, in light of all of the natural disasters that it's faced this year. 
This was the kind of tragedy that always seems to happen somewhere else.  But it didn't.  It happened in our own back yard.  I don't want my blog to become a forum for contentious political commentary, but I will just ask anyone out there who thinks taxes are evil, to remember how lucky you are that your family wasn't on that bridge last year.

Read more about the U.S. infrastructure crisis at  


I have named him 'HOOTY'.

So, my owl was back again today.  I hear them every day, but I haven't seen one lately.  I suppose with the cooler weather, they are on the hunt for mice and other rodents who are on the move looking for warmer climates (like my house!).  This guy was atop of the neighbors garage that borders my backyard and he was sleeping until I was rude enough to wake him up.  Note the perturbed look on his face.  I hope he stays around.  He's beautiful and I'm sure he will be a mouse repellant.  I like mice even less than the woodchuck.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Happy Birthday Cindi! (sorry it's spelled wrong!)

Julie Campbell and I in class.

Etched pieces made by Julie in class tonight.  Great work Julie!

Tonight I taught an acid-etching on metal class at Bead Haven.  I really like this class.  I mean, hammering on metal and submerging things in a caustic vat of acid, what could be better?  Seriously, if you haven't tried the acid-etching thing yet, you really should give it a try.  The acid that is used for brass, copper and nickel silver is ferric chloride, a fairly weak acid that is very safe if used with care.

Tonight was also my excellent friend Cindi's birthday.  You have to love a person who coaxes you out for margaritas right before you're supposed to teach a class, a class using a torch!  Here's to you Cindi!  You are one of the youngest spirited people that I know and I'm glad to call you my friend!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Piles of beads.

Cindi driving to the bead warehouse.

Rush hour traffic.

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago with my good friend Cindi.  Cindi owns Bead Haven, a fantastic bead store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  The mission was to buy beads to restock her supply of beads for her store.  She picked me up in Iowa City at 4:50am (she's a Virgo like me, so of course she was 10 minutes early!).  We ran into torrential rains on the way and I thought we might have to pull off.  Cindi handled it like a trooper though, as nothing was going to get in her way!  We went to a huge wholesale bead warehouse that stocks stores like Cindi's.  I'm sure that you could just call them and they would deliver whatever you wanted.  That's just not how Cindi runs her store.  She has to hand pick just about everything in the place.  A good practice, since beads just aren't usually done justice by photographs.  I was recently talking with a woman who proudly told me that she buys most of her beads and supplies online to save money.  Of course, I buy a lot of my materials online, too.  The amounts of precious metals that I use in my work would just not be cost effective to buy from a retail store.  But when it comes to beads, stones and other unique items that I might add to my pieces, I generally try to buy at a show or at a bead shop like Cindi's.  First of all, there is nothing like being able to hold the beads in your hand, feel their weight and check out their color and finish in person.  There is nothing like picking out the exact bead that you need for a project in person.  Catalogues are great, but in my opinion, not a substitute for a really great bead store.  This same person who buys her beads online, told me that she goes to bead stores to check things out and then orders them online.  If most people chose to do this it wouldn't be long before there are no more local bead stores to go to.  I think buying all that you can locally, is a really great thing.
Anyway, it was so fun shopping with Cindi.  Once we got there, she was a machine.  She knows her inventory and her customers really well.  She sent me around to pick out things that I like and then she said yea or nay based on what she believes will go over well at her store.  It's a real skill to know your customers that well and not just buy what you, yourself like. She comes to this place prepared, too!  She has her own little step stool, a cooler with cold drinks, hangers for the strands of beads that she buys, and of course, plenty of candy for sustenance!   I'm not sure how much help I was, but it was fantastic for me.  I found out something important about myself.  I don't need to own every bead in the world, I just need to buy them with someone else's money!  If only I could turn that into a career!  I've never seen so many beads in one place before.  Her customers are in for a treat, as she got so many really beautiful things!

We were at the warehouse from 9am to 5pm, can you believe that?  Afterwards, it was rush hour, so we decided to stay off of the freeway and drive around a bit and look for a junk shop to rummage through.  We didn't find any, but we found ourselves in Geneva where one of Cindi's best friends, Susie lives.  She decided to call her to say hi and weirdly, she was driving a block away from us. We all went to dinner and had a great time.  Susie is as sweet and funny as Cindi, so you know it was a good time.  Cindi was beat (I think she crashed from her sugar high that she got from consuming 24 pieces of candy in 15 minutes!) so I drove us home.  It was a great day and I can't wait to see all of the stuff she got once it's all displayed.  Thanks Cindi!

Saturday, September 13, 2008


17-5  Hawks win!

Friday, September 12, 2008


Tomorrow is the annual Iowa vs. Iowa State football game.  For those of you not from around here, this is a big deal.  The two schools have a long standing rivalry.  It's mostly a good natured thing, and that's the way it should be.  Though, the schools stopped playing each other in 1934, and if I'm not mistaken, it was because the good natured rivalry got out of hand.  Iowa didn't play Iowa State again until 1977.  I love sports, but it's unfortunate how often people lose perspective over them.  
I am and always will be a Hawkeye, so of course that's who I'm rooting for.  I've only missed a few Iowa home games since I was a student in the 80's.  Our tailgating may be is a little different than the college days, but we always have a great time! 

Iowa and Iowa State started their intrastate rivalry back in 1894, and no I wasn't a freshman that year!  Since they began playing again in '77, Iowa has won 20 times to Iowa State's 11 victories.  In the last ten years though, Iowa has only won 3 out of 10.  It doesn't seem to matter which team is better in this rivalry.  The kids really get psyched up for it and it's anyone's game!
And while I like a good close game and I want it to be nice and friendly, I'm still fan enough to want the Hawks to beat the tar out of the 'Clones!  GO HAWKS!  BEAT STATE!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Obsessive eggshell mosaics, hand-painted with acrylic and 24 karat gold paint.

Russian poetry, hand-painted and embedded in resin.

Resin earrings with Greek script, hand-painted with acrylic and 24 karat gold paint.

I'm going to teach a resin workshop in November and that got me thinking about pieces I've made in the past.  I work almost exclusively in metal, especially silver, some 24 karat gold and lately, bronze.  Last year I had a few weeks where I became unreasonably obsessed with resin.  I made bezels out of anything that I could find.  I used bottle caps, mint tins, seed pods, brass bezels and then I graduated to sterling silver bezels that I soldered rings to.   When I was a kid in the 70's, resin was huge.  We made countless paperweights with coins and flowers embedded in them.  I remember my sister Cindi and I making all kinds of stuff with our Dad.  I think memories of those good times might be at the heart of the resin obsession.  Plus, it's just fun!  

This resin-y obsession burned it's self out rather quickly, but lately I've been think about getting the old resin bottle out again.  This time I can't allow myself to abandon everything else for resin.  I have two shows before the end of the year to get ready for and I can't be playing!  I'll just have to get it out of my system in the workshop!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Barbell Fringe Earrings from tonight's class.

Julie's wire crochet necklace with some of my charms mixed in.

Julie's earrings with some of my charms.

I taught a Barbell Fringe earring class at Bead Haven in Cedar Rapids tonight.  Everyone did very well.  I like this class because you end up with something pretty when you're done and it's a really non-threatening introduction to using a torch.

Before class tonight I got a chance to visit with Julie Campbell.  I don't get a chance to see Julie very often and that's too bad because she's lots of fun (she also works at a bakery and brings the best treats!).  Julie and Jeanne Craine both teach bead weaving classes at Bead Haven.  The store is lucky to have two such talented weaving instructors!

Julie brought a few pieces to the store that she has made using some of my fine silver components.  I've got to take one of her classes!


When you buy new clothes, always put them away as soon as you get home.

Monday, September 8, 2008


One of my dearest friends lost her mother this morning.  I am so sorry for her and yet there is so little that I can do.  When we are faced with a loss like this, I think that it's natural to wish for a task, something to do to make us feel that we are doing something to help ease the pain, if even just a little, for the person who is grieving.  My friend is a good daughter.  She made sure that her mother knew how much she was loved.  You really can't wish for more than that.

As hard as I try, I can't think of one thing to do to ease this loss for my friend.  The only thing I can do is to make sure that all of the people that I love know how much.   

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Jamie's yummy cake!

SK and her new friend

Ipods rock!

I had a really nice birthday last weekend.  We spent the day with my Mom and Dad, my sisters Cindi and Jamie and my nephew Jesse.  Jamie made one of my favorite cakes, a peach schnapps soaked wedding cake-style cake.  I know it sound a little weird, but it is delish!  Jamie makes the best cakes!  We had a really good BBQ (Jamie's good at that too!).

Birthdays aren't about presents, of course, but I got some lovely ones.  I got two really fun presents from my sweetie.  One was a way cool 32g Ipod Touch and the other was a new UGLY DOLL.  If you have never seen these dolls, go check out their website.  They are so fun!

Thanks to everyone who made my birthday special.  And to my friend Gail,  SK's new friend needs a name.  Got any ideas?

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Mom checking out the merchandise at our last sale.

Jamie telling me to get to work!

Dad, supervising.

Tomorrow is garage sale day.  My sisters, Cindi and Jamie, and I are having a garage sale at Mom and Dad's house tomorrow.  Cindi used to have sale a every year, especially when her son was small.  Cindi always had lots of cute kids clothes and toys at the sale.  Her garage sale used to attract A LOT of people every year.  These crazy people would show up at 6 o'clock in the morning hoping to be early birds.  You've never seen such a spectacle as this garage sale.  We haven't had a sale in three years.  It should be interesting.  So tomorrow morning I will be driving to Independence at 5 am (ugh!) with a car load of clothes and assorted stuff.  The car is so full of stuff in fact, that I can't see out the back window!  Wish me luck.  I don't want to bring this stuff home!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


This is so disgusting and I only share it with you now because, well, it's gross and wanted to share!  Sunday was my birthday, (more on that later) and we went to my parents house for the day to celebrate.  When we got home later that night, our house was full of these hideous things!  I have no idea where they came from, but they were everywhere.  It was like something from the Amityville Horror (remember that creepy scene with the flies?)!  I'm not usually the kind of girl that's afraid of bugs.  In fact, I'm the person who takes spiders outside when I find them in the house.  But, OMG! these things were huge!   The cats even seemed weirded out by them. They were about the size of a dime.  Paul and I were running around the house, swatting them while they dive bombed us.  I think all in all we squashed 20 of them.  Just when I thought they were all gone, I when up to my studio, and there were 5 or 6 up there.  I think they are all gone now.  It's been two days since we've seen any, so I hope that's it.  EW!  I am still so grossed out.  I Googled "GINORMOUS FLIES" and found out that these were horse flies.  One helpful person in an insect chat room (yes, an insect chat room) suggested to a person with a similar infestation, that perhaps they have a body hidden somewhere in their house and that they should try to find it and get rid of it, and this should solve the problem.  The internet is so helpful.