Saturday, August 23, 2014


In the 16 years that I have been making jewelry, I have noticed how much has changed.  In the past, wholesale night at the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee each June meant that sellers sold beautiful pearls, gems and findings for 40 - 75% off.  It was a five hour extravaganza of buying beautiful beads that made my heart pound!  I still have strands of gemstones, turquoise and premium pearls that I bought at very good prices -- deals which I will never see again.  Now, wholesale "sellers" night doesn't have much allure, since the prices are the same that night as any other day of the show.  Really good gemstones at reasonable prices are becoming hard to find!  The really premium gems are selling by the piece now instead of by the strand.

Once I had a customer who wanted me to make a necklace in Malachite. This started a quest to find nice malachite, and a whole learning opportunity.  Online gem sellers had very little malachite for sale.  George and I made a 60 mile trip to a bead show in a hotel south of Boston.  The gemstone seller knew a lot about malachite and had some beautiful strands in a glass case.  He explained that malachite is a soft stone, easily damaged and hard to transport. Malachite most often comes from African sources.  Sellers don't have a lot of it, because it is relatively rare that they receive malachite that is not damaged.  At that show, I enjoyed meeting someone who knew what he was selling; and I bought several beautiful strands, some costing $60+ each.

In the end, the customer decided not to order a necklace made from malachite.  The sale was quietly canceled.  I never talked much to her about it, and I didn't mind.  In the end, I was able to obtain some beautiful gemstones that I would never have known about before.  I treasure them.  The right buyer may come along...or maybe not.

Have a great day.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Oh no, the vet

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. thinking and praying that everything would go well this morning.  Simba had a vet appointment at 10:00 for his yearly physical.  Getting Simba into the kitty carrier is a daunting task.  We have had to call and cancel appointments more than once because he ran and hid and we knew not where.  One time we almost had him, but the door to the cellar was open for 1/2 inch, and he got the door open and hid under a work table and we didn't see him for the rest of the day.   Today we had a plan.  But that day we had a plan too; one never knows how this is going to go; hence the praying in the middle of the night.

This morning, after we fed the kitties (Simba and his sister Safari), I nonchalantly and quietly read the news on the computer while waiting for Simba to come back to the bedroom for his morning pet-fest.   George was standing by in the room, I held Simba down on the pillow, and when I said "I have him" (rather too loudly I'm sure), George's role is to run through the hall, into the spare bedroom where we have hidden the carrier, back to the bedroom, through the door, but being careful to SHUT it tight --  I held Simba down on the pillow very firmly, ignoring his attempts to escape, while George put down the carrier and we both took a hand in shoving him in.   It worked!!  All this was in a space of about two minutes.  After that, a day has no where to go but up!

The vet said he was her favorite cat ever -- high compliments indeed.  She said he is perfect in every way; heart strong, weight right on target, just a beautiful healthy cat and whatever we were doing just keep it up.  All we do is offer a little food twice a day, some clean water, and a WHOLE lot of love.

Have a great day.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Turn on, Tune in, Drop out

George went to play 18 holes of golf this morning with his retiree friends.  The house is echoing in its own silence.  I have lots of space to think.  I am retired.   I was reminded about the hippie slogan in the late 60s -- turn on, tune in, drop out.  The Crackers have a song about that.  When the hippies were turning on in Grant Park, and the Yippies were protesting the Democratic Convention, I was with them in spirit - but I was working not far away in an office 9-5.  In the 70s, when my son Michael was born, it was not cool to let your new boss know you had a child at home -- they didn't have to hire you if they knew you may be "conflicted" -- work/home balance was unheard of.  In the 80's, the lunch time crowd I hung with in Chicago went to places where they played disco music we could dance to while we enjoyed our hamburgers.  I still worked in an office 9-5.  In the 90's things got better -- people were able to dress casual on Fridays, and bosses understood when you had reasons to stay home a few days each year.  I dropped out in the 90's and changed careers; moving to Boston to the non profit world, which was much gentler, calmer and more humane, but I still worked 9-5.  For the past ten years I have enjoyed each day that I worked in an office, and as I became older, I was grateful that people were cool, did not discriminate, and accepted me as I am. Many things have changed for the better in my 47 years of working in an office.

So, now it is retired is it?  What is that like?  I keep thinking of the old hippie thing; turn on, turn in, drop out. Instead of turning on, I'm busy turning off.  Off with the outside noise of the world, off with daytime TV (horrors!!) and off with the, lets face it, GRIND of rushing to work every morning.   I am tuned in to the world of weather, clouds, birds, flowers, and a HUGE number of options for each day.  And I can't help but think, as I enjoy the complete freedom of planning each day, that I have indeed dropped out!

hang loose

Have a great day.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Update: new wind chimes on front porch

It all comes down to this; a great pancake recipe!

They say you can't take it with you, but I might try.  Just tuck this recipe in with me.  I have created a binder of about 50 of our all time favorite recipes.  Some are covered in finger prints of old episodes into sugar and flour.  Some are spattered with butter.  But all of them are very important keepers!

If we had to grab three things  to take out of our house in a fire,  this would be the list:  1) cat 2) cat 3) recipe for First Connecticut Lake Pancakes.

We have used this recipe for pancakes for 15 years.  We have taken it to the cabin at the lake with us every year so we renamed the recipe. We have made these pancakes dozens of times.

Over the years I have retyped it, illustrated it, and refiled it a dozen times to make sure we don't lose it.  I can't find another one like this in any book or website.  This recipe is elegant in its simplicity.  It is unique.  Here is the reason.  This recipe calls for separating the yolks from the whites of 3 eggs,  mixing the rest of the batter, and THEN folding in the beaten whites of the 3 eggs.  It is an amazing recipe.  The batter is as light as souffle batter.  The pancakes are lighter and fluffier than heaven itself.  I bet.

Have a great day.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Martha's blog

This morning, while looking for a recipe for beef stew with parsnips, I ran into Martha Stewart's blog.  She does something that I think makes every blog better; lots of pictures!  While hers may seem a little self serving -- and why not? -- it has something to say and I am enjoying it.  Leaving our jealousy of her millions behind, I have always admired her for her self-made success - her dedicated vision of what is "a good thing."

And I'll be making her recipe for stew this afternoon.

Have a good day.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Temple Bells

This morning, George and I were in the front of the house coming in from an errand.  He was pulling deadly nightshade out of our shrub by the front door.  There is nothing I hate more than deadly nightshade.  The berries are poisonous - Atropa belladonna
and the vines grow like weeds.  One day they are not there, and the next they are 10 feet high and threatening to grow into the windows.  I was rather emphatic that George pull those weeds out at once!  Belladonna indeed!   As I was standing there on the front porch, I reached up and touched our temple bells.  The string vaporized in my hand and the little wooden balls which ring the bell fell and started rolling down the steps.  I barely touched it, and there it was - a shambles.  They had hung there a long time - through cold and snow, thick and thin.  I was amazed how the thing came down in pieces.  My first thought was fixing the bells with jewelry wire, and my next thought was - Amazon!

So, something we hate and something we love - both fell at the same time.  Not to make too much of this... rather than looking for the jewelry wire - I went on Amazon and found this:
 Not only do they sound beautiful, they also hang well on that spot; taking into consideration that the mail delivery person needs some headroom to stash the mail, and probably would not like being banged into by a large wind chime.   And, in the way way dark reaches of my mind, I am congratulating myself for being so flexible, kind, forgiving.  For something that both George and I know, but which we never spoke about this morning is this:  the original temple bells were a gift to him from an old girlfriend.

I'm going to wait on that Amazon order;  maybe we can find something we like better.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Journaling to remember

George and I have usually kept a journal of our trips and written about each day.  It is something that is fun to do.  We get to discuss what we remember of the day.  Ah, that is the key -- remembering.  Yesterday we were trying to remember how often we have been to Dayton to the Airforce Museum (twice) and what route did we take?  No idea.  We remember seeing Glacier Girl in Middlesboro, Kentucky, but we have no idea where we went from there.  Did we visit my brother in Lexington, and then go to Oklahoma to visit my mother?  No idea.  How could we forget? No idea.

When we go to First Connecticut Lake for our yearly vacation at the cabin, we always make a list of the wild life we see each day.  That seems to be more "productive" than writing what we do each day--which seems to be very little.  Or maybe we do a lot each day, but it is patterned the same; read, make lunch, take a drive, play cards -- over and over;  not great for journaling.

We journaled our trip on the cruise ship to Bermuda in May.  THAT was much more interesting reading.  The ship was great, the weather was great, the ocean was great, -- well, maybe that gets a little monotonous too -- but we still enjoyed sitting on our balcony, watching the sunrise and sunsets and writing in the journal.

We are planning another trip to Dayton in September.  It would be nice to know how we got there, what we saw, the high points of the trip.  But we have lost the memories of the day to day on that trip because we didn't write a journal.  Next time we will!

Have a great day.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

A few words about Bermuda

We were in Bermuda in May.  It was the first weekend of beautiful spring weather we heard from a boat driver.  He said we really picked a good one.  It was sunny every day, about 73 degrees, and the blue of the ocean will just knock you out!  It is such a glorious blue, I was disappointed in my pictures, which did not capture the blue and the sunshine.   The cruise ship docked on Sunday morning, and the upper deck was the place to be, watching the pilot boat and the dolphins that escorted us in.  The ship may be full of people, but it was still quiet, as people just enjoyed the view and their surroundings.

Bermuda is old.  It is built on white sands and ancient coral.  It looks like an ancient outcropping with a few white buildings.  The fort is picturesque and my favorite picture came from the morning when we were docking, of the fort in a glass calm bay.   We took a taxi ride around half the island.  Here is what we learned.

  • You need to enjoy the scenery because pictures are almost impossible. Roads are narrow and there are few places to pull off.  
  • People are friendly.  Our driver and all other drivers honked quickly, beep beep, at everyone they knew, and since they know everyone, it was beep beep all the time.
  • Bermuda is a land of churches.  There are bible readings at almost every bus stop.  There are hundreds of churches, large and small.  People are religious in every day life and it shows in their demeanor and kindness.
  • The beaches are the most stunning in the world.  It can't get any better anywhere.  They are not crowded in the morning, but start to fill up quickly after 10 a.m.  The water is pristine blue, and the beaches are white bordering on pink.  The outcroppings of coral make a haven for shore birds and Bermuda longtails.  These birds are so fantastic and we could not take our eyes of them.  Their black and white markings are dramatic and their long tails sweep out behind them as they fly.  
  • Getting a taxi is easy.  Bring money.
  • Bermuda is expensive, but we didn't have to buy anything, since the Norwegian Dawn had everything we could possible want or need.  Food is expensive.  Our driver showed us the gardens that people have to grow their own food, to try to limit their visits to the grocery store, where a tomato can cost $4.00.  He showed us the fancy hotels, and beeped at every valet or car park, and told us they were his cousins.  Everyone has LOTS of cousins.
  • It is a place of wonder.  Our glass bottom boat tour took us to an ancient sunken boat to see the turtles and fish.  It was beautiful.  The boat was full of people.  You could have heard a pin drop.  No one talked, we just were full of wonder at the natural beauty of the place.
There are many beautiful places in the world, but it truly seems a miracle that Bermuda can be situated in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, and still be a land of such calm beauty.  It is a land of Glory, a glorious mirage, and one that I can't wait to see again.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Gees Bend Quilt

Sunday night

In the last few weeks, as I contemplated what retirement may be like, I thought that one big difference would be Sunday evenings.  In the late 70's, I worked in a high pressure job.  I was trying to learn and do things right, and I was responsible for things that were out of my control; and I suffered from Sunday night heebie-jeevies, a nervousness about what tomorrow might bring that threatened to bring my weekend mood crashing down.  Until the last few years, I suffered from the Sunday h-js.  When I thought of retirement, I thought that Sunday nights were going to be just another evening - an evening filed with later night TV, or late night reading, or sitting on the deck watching the fireflies without worrying about "bedtime".  Sleeplessness is no longer a big threat if you are free in the daytime to take a nap if you want.

So, tonight it is 8:45 on Sunday night.  I am watching a show called Craft in American on Roku.  It is about quilting in Gee's Bend, Alabama.  I am thrilled with the prospect of hand quilting my pink and white quilt that came from my mother.   I am thrilled to be able to watch crafters and artists who love to work with their hands. It is very freeing to think that I can start that project tomorrow if I want.

Bring on Monday!

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Free as a bird


If you Google "how to retire", most of the articles are about how to retire early.   I never even thought about retiring early -- I couldn't imagine what life would be like.  I loved going to work and waited a long time to actually write and deliver my resignation letter.  It was a decision that I made, and one that was also made for me.  When it is time to leave a job, it is pretty obvious.  Just like anything else, you follow the signs.

I have over 135 books on my Kindle that need to be read.  I have a jewelry studio bursting with beautiful beads and elements that need to be used.  I have a kiln for precious metal clay that needs to be fired. I have letters to write, walks to take, and many places to visit.  And, not least, George will love having me home. We are looking forward to all things big and small.  Big trips are being planned, but small things too;  more time on the deck in the sunshine, more bird watching at Plum Island, more weekday trips to Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, more weekday lunches together.  The possibilities seem endless. It is very exciting.  It's time.

Time to say goodbye to working, so that I have time for more hellos to everything else!