Monday, March 30, 2009


A Crocus blooming under the leaves.

Butter yellow crocuses in my yard.

Max Leonard, blissful on his porch.

Sophie's world.

I've been really busy lately, with the shows I've been doing and everything else.  I realized today that I haven't really been paying attention to the signs of spring that are all around.  There are flowers really beginning to bloom now, even with the 5 inches of late season snow that fell over the weekend.  The snow was melted before noon the next day, which is Iowa for you.  Another thing that reminds me that it's spring are cats on my front porch.  Max loved the front porch.  When we moved into this house, there were a lot of things that needed repair due to many years of neglect.  The first thing that we fixed, even though money was tight, was the screening on the front porch.  Max loved being on the porch and we didn't want him to get out and get hurt.  Years later when we had the money we put in new screens and storm windows to winterize the porch, so the cats could be out longer in the fall.  I remember the contractor saying that it was the world's most expensive cat toy.  He was right.  Sophie was an outdoor cat when she got her.  She's an indoor kitty now and she uses the porch to survey her world.  When I go to bed at night, the last thing that I do is carry her into the house.  She'd stay out there all night if I let her.
It's hard to believe that it's been almost 6 months since Max died.  I had a meeting today and when I came home, for some reason it hit me so hard that I'd never see him on his front porch again.  Sophie was there though and it makes me really happy that she loves it out there as much as Max did.  Signs of spring are everywhere.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I wanted to invite all of you that will be in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area on April 3rd and 4th to an open house and trunk show at Bead Haven in Cedar Rapids.  I will be there with lots of new work, as will lampworker, Melissa Rediger and Rebecca Elias of REDesigns.  Cindi will have lots of treats and discounts and door prizes and it promises to be lots of fun.  The show hours are 5-8pm on Friday, April 3rd and 10am-5pm on Saturday, April 4th.  Please stop by and see me if you get a chance!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Ok, I want to say straight off, that if you are easily grossed out or easily offended, please skip this post.  I put the photos at the bottom of the post so you can avoid them if you want. Don't be emailing me later about my photos of animal cruelty or about how you barfed on your shoes.  If you didn't grow up on a farm or don't watch a lot of Discovery Channel, this post might not be for you.   You've been warned.
Last Saturday my sister Jamie, came to our house early in the morning so that she and Paul and I could go shopping in Des Moines.  When she and I went outside we noticed massive amounts of bird poop all over my front steps.  I mean a massive amount.  I couldn't quite figure out how this happened as there is too much tree cover for there to have been a fly over by Canadian Geese.  It had to be some really large bird sitting in the tree that hangs above the steps.  Then she and I found these lovely "gifts" left on the sidewalk.  The curvy thing is a bit of Garter Snake and the lumpy thing is what's known as an owl pellet.  An owl pellet is the indigestible remains of animals and insects that the owl eats.  Kind of like a kitty hairball.  Hawks also regurgitate the indigestible parts of their prey as well.  Since their stomach muscles are relatively weak, the bones of their prey remain pretty much in tact.  I know this is gross, but I really think it's cool too.  Do you see the bird foot in the pellet?  There was a lot of fur and mammal bones too.  Probably rabbits and mice.  I had no idea owls would go for snakes.  For the past couple of years we've had many Barred Owls living in the woods around our house (see my post from September 17th 2008).  We haven't seen or heard them much since last fall though.  I'm really happy that they're still around.  As harsh as it is for the unsuspecting animals, they really are amazing to watch.  I was in the yard a couple of years ago when an owl soundlessly plucked a rabbit off the ground right in front of me.  The rabbit never knew what happened, it was over that fast.  In years previous, we were completely over run by rabbits.  No so these days.  My only problem is that I have a feeling that I've been an unwitting participant in the slaughter.  We have a bird feeder about 10 feet from the house, really close to where the pellet was found.  I think maybe we set up this owl buffet.  Oh well.  At least I didn't see any red Cardinal feathers in the pellet.

Part of a Garter Snake and a pellet from a Barred Owl.

A close up of the pellet, complete with the foot of some poor, unfortunate bird.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Happy Birthday Paul!

Snow Drops in my yard, a sure sign of spring.

Today is the first day of spring and it is also my husband Paul's birthday.  He's lucky to have his birthday fall on or near this special day each year.  My birthday falls during the dog days of summer, right before Labor Day.  I can remember every year when school would start, right around my birthday, no one at school ever remembered my birthday.  The teacher would always make us fill out little cards in elementary school, letting her know when our birthdays were.  But by the time she got around to doing this, my birthday had usually passed.  I can hear all of you out there playing your little violins for me!  
I love this time of year.  It holds so much promise.  The air smells good, the light has a special quality to it, even the birds sound happy.  Paul's birthday is always my signal to think about planting the seeds for my garden.  I start tomato and herb seeds in my basement under grow lights and baby them until about the first of May, when all danger of frost has passed in southeast Iowa.  Sometimes, I can't resist setting the seedlings out a bit earlier.  Though, I don't think much is gained by this as tomatoes don't really flourish until the soil is really warm.  This year, I'll be a bit late with my seed starting as I just ordered my seeds today.  That little bit of time won't really make much difference, but I'm chomping at the bit to get started. 
Happy Birthday, Paul!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The Space Shuttle Discovery is 3 days into it's long delayed mission to deliver the final set of solar arrays to the International Space Station.  Discovery's mission will last 2 weeks.  Yesterday, Discovery did her backflip and docked with the Space Station 215 miles above Western Australia.  Discovery accomplished docking while flying at 17,500 miles per hour.  Most people I know shouldn't talk on their cell phones at 50 mph, let alone dock with a speeding space station.  Well done Discovery!
My sister called me today and let me know that our Dad told her that the docked Discovery and Space Station would be flying over Eastern Iowa tonight at 8:42 central time.  Dad knows everything.  I went outside at about 8:35pm and scanned the sky from the NW to the NE until suddenly, right on schedule the two spacecraft came into view.  It was stunning and impossible to miss.  They travelled fast across the sky and it was over really fast.  It was so bright that it stunned me.  I was alone, but I was jumping up and down yelping excitedly, because I wanted everybody to see it.  My neighbor probably thinks I'm nuts.
It was so cool.  I saw the Space Shuttle fly across the sky once a few years ago, but this was much brighter. because of the 2 vessels flying together.  If you'd like to find out like to find out when the Shuttle is visible from where you live check out the Nasa Skywatch site.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Jamie, the best little sister anyone could ever have.

The Robert's Dairy Cow, only in Iowa.

The color guard.

There's nothing so American as kids at a parade, is there?

And of course, Saint Patrick.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa has had a Saint Patrick's Day parade every year since the 1940's.  For the past several years I have gone to the parade with my little sister, Jamie.  It's kind of become our tradition.  Usually the weather is not so great, either windy and rainy or snowy and blustery.  Not so today, though.  Today, it was 77 degrees with a sky as blue as could be.  Very unusual.  We got downtown late, and still found a great parking space a block away from the action and a good place to stand and watch the parade.  It's always fun, but this year it was a little more special to see all of those folks gathered on streets that less than a years ago where inundated by floods.  Downtown Cedar Rapids is no where near back to normal, but things are beginning to happen. Some former businesses are coming back and new ones are springing up.  If that's not a hopeful sign of spring, I don't know what is.
Read about Cedar Rapids' rebuilding effort here.


My little booth in Santa Fe.

Gail and I, having too much fun.

Anne and I, in the booth.

Michelle Goldstein, wishing I wouldn't take her picture.

The very whimsical, Alina.

Stephanie and Gail.

Gail, Me and Terri at dinner.

Linda Larsen of Objects and Elements and Lisa Blackwell of Zoa Art.

I got back from Santa Fe late last night after a typically harrowing day of travel. I am a magnet for plane delays and lost baggage. Remember this if you ever choose to travel with me. You have been warned. I'm sorry that my blogging was so sparse while I was gone. I had fully intended to post every day, but by the end of each day I was sapped and didn't have anything very intelligent to say.
The show was great fun and I did very well. I learned so much and when I got home, I already had some invitations in my email box to participate in some other large shows, so I guess I did something right! I met lots of great folks over the last week. Thank you to all of the nice people who had such nice things to say about my work. One person who really touched me was Linda-Marie, who lost her daughter a short time ago and found symbolism and comfort in my dragonflies. She was really sweet and her strength really touched and impressed me. Linda-Marie was helping out in the booth of Lisa Blackwell of Zoa Art. I met Lisa and her husband Tony a couple of years ago in Tucson and was really pleased to reconnect with her. Next door to our booth was Jill Wiseman from Tapestry Beads in Austin, Texas. Jill sells really lovely seed bead kits that are certainly well beyond my patience level. She has a particular bracelet that I believe she will be teaching next year with 2mm swarovskis that has to be seen to be believed. Gail and I got to connect with Facebook friend, Susan Dilger, who is now an actual friend. Susan is a fascinating L.A. transplant who now lives in Taos, New Mexico full time. Another night, I got to have dinner with Gail, Anne, Terri Caspary Schmidt (lampworker extrordinaire), Jennifer, Michelle Goldstein and Stephanie Sersich. Michelle and Stephanie have a collaborative project called 'Hearts and Bones' as well their own separate teaching and jewelry projects. Over the course of the show I also met lots of Interweave people, including the editor of 'Stringing', Danielle Fox, who came over to my booth to chat. Anne had a woman named Alina back to back with her booth, who was best described as a crazy fairy god mother. She kept picking little treasures of stones and beads out of her never ending stash to give to us, because she felt that we needed them. She reminded me a little of the character of Vianne, from the movie, 'Chocolat'. Do you remember how she always could guess the chocolate concoction that was your favorite, blissful treat? Alina was like that. She also made wildly exuberant jewelry that really suited her style.
I got to spend lots of time with my good friend Gail, who handles drama the same way that I usually do, with good old, Midwestern sense and aplomb. We had so much fun. I never laugh so much as when I'm with that silly girl. Every time that I see her, it makes me wish again that we lived closer. Thank you so much for all of your help, Gail. I can't wait to return the favor in Ohio this summer. And of course, I got to see Anne, whose booth I was helping to mind, as well as my own. I saw Anne in Tucson last month, but there's just never enough time to just hang out and shoot the breeze. It would be great to see her sometime when we can just sit around and do nothing except talk and drink margaritas. Someday. I get to see all of these fine people and others, again in June for the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee. I can't wait!

Friday, March 13, 2009


Bead Fest opened yesterday.  It was fun and we made some sales, though lots of vendors said that the traffic was slower than in years past.  I haven't done it before, so I don't have much to compare it to.  I met some great people and got a lot of great feed back about my work, so that was nice.  I met a caster from Santa Fe who I talked to about having some of my toggles cast in pewter and sterling.  I didn't remember to grab my camera from under the table at the show, so I won't have photos until tomorrow.  I didn't have a chance to walk around much and see what everyone had to sell, so I hope I get to tomorrow.  I did, however buy a texture hammer from Beaducation.  Does that surprise any of you?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Gail and I at The Shed.

Anne, looking good in a fedora.

Gail, in... I don't know what that is.

I love salvage yards.  There is so much to find inspiring.

I arrived in Albuquerque yesterday afternoon, waited about an hour for my friend Gail to come in from Cleveland and then we made the 50 minute drive to Santa Fe.  We went out to dinner last night to a really good place that Gail knew about, weirdly named The Shed.  A strange name for a really good, authentic New Mexican restaurant.  We had a great dinner and some nice margaritas too!  Today, we went to a fantastic architectural salvage yard that's near where we are staying.  I wish I had a U-Haul.  I took some pictures, though you weren't supposed to.  I confess, I couldn't help myself.  We walked around and perused the many galleries that Santa Fe has to offer, most too expensive to be believed, but beautiful, none the less.  Anne, Gail and I tried on silly hats in a custom hat store.  I don't know why, but every time we are together, we end up trying on hats.  It was a fun day.  
Tomorrow, we set up for the show, which has it's preview tomorrow night.  I'm happy to have my very generous friend, Gail here with me to help.  I'm sure we'll have fun. Everyone should have a friend like that.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I'm headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico this week for Interweave's Bead Fest.  I will be there to help out my friend Anne Mitchell while she's teaching classes.  I'll be manning her booth while she's teaching and I will also be selling my work as well.  I'll be gone for a week coming home on March 16th.  I will have email while I'm there and will try to blog about the show and what's going on.  If anyone needs anything from me, I will get back to you as soon as possible.  Wish me luck!

PS. I saw Lucy today and I think her recovery is miraculous.  I went to the store and when she saw me she got up and walked over to me.  I held her and she licked my fingers.  Cindi asked her if she wanted a treat and Lucy's ears perked up at the sound of that word.  She tires easily, but she walked around the store a bit before she need to rest.   She's not yet quite herself, but amazing that she got hit in the head by a truck last Wednesday!  I know that given time, she'll get there.  

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Daisy and Lucy in their Hawkeye gear during football season.

On Wednesday, my friend Cindi's little 4 pound Yorkshire Terrier, Lucy (on the right in the photo) got hit by a pick up truck as she darted across the street after some birds.  Cindi rushed her to the veterinarian hospital, where initially they didn't give her much of a chance.  Miraculously, she didn't have any broken bones, but she did have a closed head injury.  When I saw her at the hospital she was agitated, and sort of semi-conscious.  The vets remained guarded when they didn't see any improvement within the first few hours, in fact they felt that maybe she had deteriorated a bit.
Then something wonderful happened.  Lucy began to show some improvement.  Her pupils were no longer dilated and unequal and the doctors felt that the swelling in her brain was subsiding.  Yesterday they took her off of all of the meds that they had her on and she was able to eat some baby food.  Today, not even 72 hours after the accident, she's going home.  I know that she will have a long and probably difficult recovery and that she might not ever be quite the same again, but that's ok. Her people are ready and willing to take on what ever lies ahead.  
It just goes to show you that you can never judge the size of some one's heart or their spirit by the the size of their 4 pound body.
Cindi has been posting updates about Lucy on her blog, here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


 9 gram PMC charm bracelet.  The charms were made by me and the bracelet was made by Cindi.

Marcia and Margaret's PMC charms.

Last night I taught a PMC charm class at Bead Haven.  I didn't get a photo of Marcia and Margaret's charms after they were fired, but the second photo was taken at the end of class.  It was a class for beginners, where you learn a simple way to set a stone in a PMC charm that will be fired in place.  The thing that I think is the coolest about this class is that it shows how many little pieces that you can make with a mere 9 grams of PMC.  It's a good class for beginners to try out PMC without a big price tag.  That's definitely a good thing these days.  

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Marylynn and Allison contemplating something.

David's future bracelet.  I wonder who will get it when it's done.

Bonnie and her butterflies.

David's clock part ring and Allison's watercolor Koi fish.

At the top, Marylynn's ring with beads embedded in resin.  How cool is that?

Bottle caps galore!

Allison's cool bezel that her friend found on the ground.  

We had a really fun time in class yesterday.  You know it's good when no one, including me wanted to go home!  I know I've said it before, but the creativity of people really amazes me.  The uniqueness of people is apparent when you set them loose on a creative project.  You get a glimpse into their personalities by watching what they come up with.  David's style was to tinker with his teeny watch parts, carefully arranging them inside of bezels.  Bonnie sat quietly reflecting and soaking everything in while she decided which papers and transparencies she wanted to use and which colors of paints she wanted to choose to personalize her pieces and really made them her own.  That reflective nature shone through in the things that she made. Marylynn meticulously arranged seed beads with tweezers into lovely borders around the pictures that she placed in side the bezels.  Allison was wildly prolific, making so many beautiful things in such a short time and her exhuberence really came through in what she made. 
My pictures of the finished pieces were not so great, so if I get back to the store tomorrow before they all pick up their pieces, I'll post some new ones.
Thanks to David, Marylynn, Allison and Bonnie.