Friday, December 26, 2008

A Remembrance

Every Boxing Day since 1996 I have thought about a woman I knew for many years. We had been acquaintances through mutual friends for years, and then ended up working together for several years. We lost touch for a while, and then I moved into an apartment in the small 1930's apartment building in which she was living. I couldn't say we were ever really friends, and there was actually some tension between us at one point. She had had a difficult life, a very sharp tongue, and some serious medical issues that caused her a great many problems. She made some choices that left her very unhappy and troubled, and some regrettable things happened that were beyond her control. However, she was extremely smart, she had a wicked sense of humor, a great sense of style, and she was working really hard at turning her life around. In late 1996 she moved within our small building and ended up living in the apartment right across the hall from me.

She was pregnant, and as far as I knew, quite happy. Her ex-husband had custody of their only child and lived several provinces away, she seldom was able to see her son. The baby was a girl, and was due on January 15th, 1997.

On Christmas Eve of 1996 I saw her in the hallway as I was leaving to spend Christmas with my family. She looked wonderful and I told her so, and she said "Happy Christmas, Karen".

On Boxing Day of 1996, very early in the morning she was murdered by her common-law husband.

This is tragic in more ways than I can say. I had not realized what had been going on. I attributed some things to her personality, and others to the stresses of the season. Only her very closest friend had known the extent of the problem. This close friend had advised her to come over to me the next time there was a violent incident, but my neighbour said she was too embarrassed to let me know what was going on.

I have no philosophical pronouncement, nor any word of wisdom to offer. I hope if I am ever in a similar situation (which gods forbid), that I will pay more attention to the signs. Yes, there were a few signs. And every Boxing Day I remember those two lives taken so cruelly, and I hope they know that they are remembered.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Loving Wishes

Sending out loving wishes to you all. Especially warm loves to those of you who have lost a loved one at or near this time of year (Veronica, Christopher, Anne), though I am sure they are sending their love to you still. My wish is that we can all enjoy the colors and sounds and textures of the season, and remember that we are loved.

"...Those shining boughs with their strange fruitage of gifts have power to bring hope and good cheer to lonely hearts the world over. They are the symbols, which the Spirit of Christmas sets ashine, of that Tree of Life. And the Spirit of Christmas is only another name for Love, and it is Love alone, the human and divine together, which can bring about the healing needed by hearts in every nation..."
----Annie Fellows Johnston, 1910

The universe gave me the best gift yesterday. I was downtown doing a few errands and I was halfway to the library, sipping my treat of a skinny hazlenut latte (with nutmeg), when I decided suddenly to turn around and go back to visit our local farmers market. I didn't need anything at the market, but it's always pretty this time of year, full of flowers and lovely fruit and good smells. I thought I'd just wander through and enjoy, and then get back to my list of things to do. I was looking at some flowers when I heard a familiar voice say "KAREN!!! Karen Elmquist! I was just GOOGLING you!!!"
It was my dear friend Mia! We worked together years ago and had lost touch. And oddly I had recently been thinking about her too! Mia and Sam and I used to get laughing so hard we would cry!
We sat down and talked for two and a half hours! It was so so great to see you Mia!! best surprise gift ever! I will NOT lose touch again!
I also got to meet her friend Greg and we had some very interesting conversation. It was really a treat, thank you!

I must also take a moment to wish Miss Isabella a VERY happy birthday!! Eat lots of cake! Save me a frosting rose!

The beautiful angel picture at the top of this post was taken by our friend Marilyn in Ephesus, Turkey. Thanks M for letting me use it!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice! A very special point of the year, with far more meaning to me personally than the more commercialized holdays. At least (so far) Business Depot and Toys R Us aren't capitalizing (yet) on the Solstice. It's probably just a matter of time before laser printers, iPhones and filing cabinets are being pushed as the perfect Yule gift, and Toys R Us will be offering little Spinal Tap-esque replicas of Stonehenge.

I enjoy contemplating the past on the Winter Solstice...and not just my personal past, for better or worse, but the way-back past, the misty past, the past we can only know through speculation. We can learn so much form archeology, but so much is hidden from us. We do know with certainty though that this day was noted and commemorated by all of our ancients, throughout the world. That continuity of thought and mind is a wonderful thing to consider and embrace.

Cris has beautifully said much of what I've been thinking on her blog, check it out.

I wish you all joy of the return of the light.
And I pledge to myself to remember that each day, each hour, each minute and each second is a new beginning. Have wings, and use them!

We have spent a pleasant quite day, out of the cold, snug and peaceful. This picture was taken a few years ago but it's one of my favorites of the meadow in winter.

I did just a little decorating to conserve my energy...I have approximately , um, an uncountable number of antique and vintage Christmas ornaments, and much as I love them, it really is a lot of work to drag them out, spread them all over the house and then put them all away again! They are a delight, but they are having a nice rest this year! When I worked in retail, for many years my walk to work took me past a thrift store and I went in every single day. Those were the mythical "good old days" of thrifting, seriously, and I bought hundreds of valuable old blown glass ornaments for pennies...and other things, figural Santas and Christmas ephemera, chenille wreaths and bottlebrush trees...I was teased unmercifully about it at work, vintage Christmas wasn't really fashionable or desirable at the time. HA! It has been many years since I've seen any at a thrift. Here are a few sweet Victorian postcards. It's fun to read the messages.

The mantle, there is a wonderful fire int he fireplace tonight. The stocking was sent to me for my first Christmas by my Auntie Ivy and Uncle Claude, so it's very old. Hehehh! Yes, the left hand poinsettia plant is in a plant stand made from a WWI artillery shell. So has an interesting if rather militant taste in collectibles. I say, if you can't blow it up, put a flower in it!
This is the little kitchen tree which amuses us immensely. It has blown glass cupcakes and chocolate dipped strawberries and fancy cocktails, and a pink fridge and vegetable people. That is indeed a blown glass can of diet Coke, one of us (cough, not me) is addicted!

We actually had an hour or two of sunshine yesterday, such a rarity here lately, it has been so dark. Valentine is convinced that if the sun is shining it is SUMMER. She wanted outside so badly I finally let her go out.

WTH? This is COLD!

I do not approve. Is it better over here?
Over there maybe?

To HELL with this! Want in! Poor kitty. It took her a good 10 minutes to lick her toes back to tolerable warmness!

Finally, I found this picture I took last summer and forgot about. Half of a large nut or seed pod of some sort. I love that even inside a nut there can be a beautiful, perfect heart!
Love to you all, thanks for the kind messages.

A Warning to Humans Everywhere:

Friday, December 19, 2008

It Will Pass...

It has not been a good week.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


From the CBC:

"Currently, President Bush is just relieved that he did not invade Holland"

Friday, December 12, 2008


4:30 PM and dark already. Yuck! However there is a beautiful full moon to look at tonight and just a few days until the solstice. I can't wait.

We're off to the lake in a few hours and I'll be spending the week up there with plenty of peaceful time for work and pleasant projects. I'll do a bit of baking, work on my murrine and some silver clay work I'm looking forward to. Lots more ebay items to prepare, too.

I haven't received my print Bead and Button Class Catalogue in the mail yet, but the class list went live today on the show website. There are some great selections to ponder though one instructor I was hoping to take a class with, a wonderful beadmaker named Andrea Guarino, is not teaching this year. It will be fun to figure out which classes I would like to take and make it happen!

I was very sad to see that pin-up icon Bettie Page passed away today at the age of 85. I knew she was in a coma so it wasn't an unexpected thing. I hadn't realized what a complex and tumultuous life she had led. I have always loved her joie de vivre which came across so clearly in her photos, and that incandescent smile was simply unforgettable. Here's to you, Bettie, you'll never be forgotten!

I opened my etsy store today, it was really easy to figure out their user-friendly listing system. There is a link to it just above my picture on the top left. I'll be adding more beads, jewelry and fairy dolls just as soon as I can get really nice photos taken.

I hope you all have lovely weekends. Stay out of the malls if you can possibly help it, it's really not good for your stress level!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Short Days

The days are getting shorter and shorter , it's not even 5:00 here and already almost dark. Ah the joys of the frozen north! Only 2 brief weeks until the Winter Solstice, to my mind the BEST holiday of the year!

Here is the beginning of a project, pretty impressive for three hours of work, huh? I know, it is not terribly impressive! This is an eye murinne, I got a very nice even pull of about 15" and another larger inch at each end I can cut off with the saw.
It was about the size of two golf balls when it was ready to pull.
A little flattened at the end, but still usable, it can be heated and pulled smaller.
The image is built in the flame with layers and layers of colour.
Then the cane can be cut into slices, or assembled with other components to form larger pictures. I was fussing about the little unevenness to the brown line at the top left, but when this is done the eye will be so small it won't be visible!!
Can't even see the uneven brown line here!
A Cheezeburger pic which is a favorite. Samantha says it reminds her of Darren and herself, the copy she sent me was labelled "Retards", Anne just thinks it's very very funny, on Cheezeburger it was labelled "My Brother, He Speshul".
"My Owl Beads, They Speshul"!
Puerto Rican Screech Owl
Now this website, I am ashamed to admit, is Swedish. OK for work, but try to laugh quietly. The 70's have a LOT to answer for!
I have absolutely no reason to purchase these chocolate decorative sheets, but I really, really want some! Aren't they pretty? Especially the peacock feather ones on the second page.
Interesting auction on ebay, do you have one of these kicking around? Wish I did!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Today I Am...

...Trying to work here with my assistant, who is diligently trying to capture the cursor. She's convinced that it goes behind the laptop. She has a longer attention span than I do today!

...Tackling the laundering of the mountains of linens from the last auctions sale, the washer and dryer have been happily humming along, 11 loads so far, not nearly done yet. Dear Santa, I would like an automatic linen-ironing robot, please.

...trying to photograph some quilts and chenilles. The sun will shine brilliantly for a few minutes, so I stop what I am doing here, race to the room the quilts are set up in, take photos frantically for that few minutes, and then the sun disappears and it snows for a while. I really, really prefer natural light for my photos which is quite difficult in the Canadian winter!

...enjoying looking at these wonderful c.1880 Berlin woolwork patterns for embroidered slippers.Delighting in the unexpected color harmonies of thrift store finds! A Fire King Blue Delphi bowl, packages of vintage baby ric-rack, a mohair scarf, a silk tuxedo scarf, a 50's edition of the Borrowers.

...playing with these GREAT 1930's Czech glass beads. Aren't they a gorgeous color? But wait...there's more!

They're vaseline glass and they POP under blacklight!

...tracking down some missing images for my ebay store. Don't know how they got deleted, I am so careful, but fortunately I have most of them on file

...working on the face drawing for my murrine project. The first part (the eye) is done but it's just too dark to photograph today, I have some fun little owl beads to show too, maybe tomorrow.

...FINALLY getting some egg beads ready for my Etsy store!

...being grateful that these people are not our neighbours. Interesting, but one look was enough, and this would send So screaming down the street with her hands over her ears. I hope they live far, far out in the country!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Some days are just like trying to wade through knee deep cold molasses...I've had a week of those days.
A few interesting things to look at:

Some stunning underwater sculptures by artist Jason de Caires Taylor.

Anne's web sale of her bold fine silver and gemstone pieces...I envy whoever gets one of these for Christmas!

Metal Detecting World, a fascinating site by a dedicated metal detector and relic hunter.

Molecular jewelry at Made with Molecules . I'll take a dozen of the serotonin, please and throw in a chocolate and an estrogen while you're at it!

Cor Silver soap at you suppose all these claims are true? I'm pretty sceptical!

Kim Miles is blogging about her teaching trip to Africa .

Cute silly iPod "Lego" speakers at Wishingfish.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

To The Point

From Time Magazine online: Bush's Last Days: The Lamest Duck


Home again, welcomed by dark grey skies, howling winds, snow, sleet, freezing rain and huge waves roaring onto the beach. The absolute opposite to the past week's weather, it could be "none more" opposite!
Our last few days of vacation were spent relaxing at sea, then a final day in Miami...So rested and I indulged in another visit to Anthropologie. Such a fascinating store and concept. It's probably for the best that there are no stores closer to home than a two hour drive.
Our flight home was uneventful...except that a woman two rows ahead of us had her cat with her. His name was Tucker, I got to pet him in the airport and received a nice kiss on the nose from him (which I appreciated as I was really missing Valli at that point!) She was flying from Miami to Detroit, had a 1/2 hour stopover and then was flying to Germany. The cat was in a soft carry on, the kind that can go under the seat, and he was not impressed by this. She was wonderful with him and obviously adored him, and I am SO glad he wasn't checked into the cargo hold (which I really think is barbaric), but his plaintive me-yowls were breaking my heart so I spent the flight with my iPod turned up to almost hearing-damaging levels.
Yesterday I tackled some of the work waiting for me but pooped out by 9:00 PM, and decided that was it for the day!
The work will always be there, it will get done when it gets done. Today I am back in town, with a short list of stuff to do, to ease me back into the daily routine.

I have some projects planned and some interesting ideas I'm looking forward to trying, though it's chilly in the studio. Fortunately the radiant heater I bought two years ago really makes a difference, as do various layers of thrift-store cashmere. (Being from the thrift store I don't care if I burn holes in it with flying hot glass!)

I'm looking forward to my upcoming offerings for ebay...lots of work to prepare them, but there will be some very nice things with good age. I have quantities of lace, some wonderful Victorian red damask tablecloths, redwork embroidery, Society silk embroideries (and some of them are spectacular!), a magpies treasure trove of fun rhinestone jewelry, more vintage shoes and hats, and...well you get the idea! If only I could actually get all the work done instantly but alas, good vintage presentation takes time!

Most of the Christmas shopping is done, I'm not finished the gifts I'm making but they are coming together well. My gifts for General Mayhem and Major Destruction have arrived from Japan...Pokemon bento boxes and assorted colorful Japanese sweets. JBox really has cute stuff!
My sister commented once that the boys are reluctant to eat anything new or unusual in the shape of a vegetable, salad or fruit, but if presented with a plate of bizarre, unknown and peculiar candies, would have no trouble chowing down! So hopefully the unintelligible labelling won't present a problem when the ingredients are primarily sugar and/or chocolate!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Roma Derry

July 20th, 1934---November 21, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Maximum Relaximum

Hello! We are still floating about. I am making an effort to rest in a way I have not done for years, truly. I get terribly seasick and am grateful every day for the wonders of Bonamine, which takes care of the seasickness perfectly and also makes me sleepy, which equals naps, which equals a relaxed vacationer. Quite a novel concept for me!
Here I am relaxing on the beach on the island of St. Thomas....oh, no, wait, that's not me, it's an iguana. Heheh.
After I took these pictures he perked up and made a beeline for our towels for a little visit. I think he wanted a drink of So's Diet Coke. He certainly seemed to like having his picture taken. The long stripey tail was most alluring, but I've heard they can give you a wicked slash with them so I stayed clear.

Quite relaxed after lunch.

By request, for Samantha, some sculptured fruit. Delightful what they can do with it, and there are different ones every day.

These heavy iron panels were on the ends of all the benches on the French side of the island of Saint Martin. We liked the French side very much, it reminded us of New Orleans.
A somewhat off-putting laboratory. Thanks but I'll have my labs run somewhere else...It turns out it is run by a Doctor Lepers. I would be changing that name, maybe.
There were blocks of posh shops, (Hermes, Cartier, etc), but just a few blocks away was much more interesting with the decayed and weathered buildings I love. Lots of abandoned and falling down ones that I was just itching to poke around in. Probably not advisable, so I didn't.

A somewhat nervous Saint Martin poulet.

Yes, I was looking for broken junk in this vacant lot. There was plenty but it wasn't old or weathered enough to be interesting.

Today was an at-sea day, and the sea was very rough. Most passengers were staggering around, no matter how hard you try it's very hard to walk a straight line when the boat is rolling ponderously back and forth! It's very soothing for napping, though! And it hasn't affected our appetites (thanks to the Bonamine, for me at least), I am sure I have gained 20 pounds this week. I suppose everyone feels that way on a cruise. It will be quite bleak to go back to making my own breakfast, and my own bed, and not having dessert with lunch every day. But I have a few more days to enjoy it and I will!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Travels, Continued

Here is a farewell look at the Port of Miami as we sailed away on Sunday. We always enjoy watching this on our balcony, the ship moves away so silently and smoothly it's hard to realize at first that we're moving at all. The port is a busy on, even on Sunday there was a huge crane lifting shipping containers as though they were matchboxes and placing them delicately onto an ocean freighter. Interesting to watch.

This palatial complex is at the very end of the Port and is only accessible by ferry. It always looks so beautiful in the sunset, and what we can see of the interior looks quite amazing. A different life.

Here is the very front of the ship, it is even more monumental than it appears here! Quite imposing! Truly a floating city.

Another view. Just amazes me that we are floating around in this!

Graceful shapes on the waterfront of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

So and I were quite taken with this pretty horse with it's beautiful markings.

These blue-glazed bricks were apparently used as ballast on cargo ships in the early 19th century, and then reused as cobblestones. The colors and textures are very attractive. I don't think they will let me bring a few of these home with me.

The glazed ceramic tile front of a building in Old San Juan.

Here is the mascot of the "Polo Norte" brand.

And on the other side, the mysterious machine which apparently causes the bottles to have anti-gravity properties. I can't understand why this never caught on!

One of my absolute favorite shops in Old San Juan, "Moon Dance". It's a glorious emporium of beautiful things, mostly from the far east, full of color and sparkle. The staff kitty was around, but was off about her own business when I was taking pictures. She's a tiny wee tabby, and her name, Ranichandra, means queen of the moon. Such a big name for a wee cat!

We're having a restful, relaxing time. I am focusing heavily on reading, sleeping and working on a few little projects.
One small issue about a cruise is the fact that the staff would prefer the passengers to be eating approximately 95% of the time. Every time I turn around someone is offering me a slice off a huge roast, a basket of bread, dessert, fruit, cocktails, cookies....Pizza, Ma'am? Ice cream, Ma'am? Wheelbarrow full of breakfast pastry? It's very tempting but I can't munch ALL the time as I do need some time to sleep and lounge about, after sleeping! However, I am currently quite oblivious to the MOUNTAIN of work waiting for me at home, and that is what a vacation is for!