Monday, June 30, 2008

Happy Pride

Pride celebrations have been going on the last week or so all over the world, and will continue well into July. Over a million people gathered to watch and enjoy the 28th Toronto Gay Pride Parade today.

I'm proud.

I'm proud to live in a country where same sex marriage is legal. I'm grateful to live in a country where it is illegal for people to be jailed, persecuted, beaten or even killed for their sexual orientation.

I'm proud to be able to live my life as I wish. I celebrate and am thankful for activists who made this possible, in my lifetime...the Stonewall riots weren't even 40 years ago.

I'm proud to be constantly learning new ways to be tolerant. I'm proud of the incredible diversity of the gay community. I'm proud of all the mothers, fathers, children and friends who are supportive of their gay loved ones.

I'm proud of the chosen families, who offer so much love.

I'm proud to know people who came out at a time when it was professionally a risky thing to do.

I'm proud of the 10%. You know who you are! Stand up, be proud, I love you!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another Boulder Removed From The Mountain

Yesterday I completed the final phase of an ongoing task, which I had been dreading for sometime. I did NOT want to do this thing, but it had to be done and I could no longer put it off. I am the only person who could do it, and as I said, I did not want to.
So I did it.
Nauseous with anxiety, sweaty and dizzy with the June heat, dragging my feet, reluctant to the core, I did it.
And it was easy.
I projected a positive attitude which I was NOT feeling inside, kept my head high, smiled, stood up for myself, and did it.
And when it was done, limp with relief, alone with my thoughts, I realized I had made the task much larger in my mind that it really was. It doesn't matter whether a fear is reasonable...or not...only our perception of it, and I'm learning that the perception CAN be persuaded into a manageable form. This is a huge, helpful, blessed thing to learn. The universe loves us, whether we realize it or not...and it will almost always meet us more than half way when we are really really struggling.
The next fear will be easier to conquer. It's also a huge one, but I will do it.

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."

--Frank Herbert

A Path out of Shadows

Friday, June 27, 2008

Seeking Balance

My mission this summer is the maintenance of balance. It's ironic that, despite being a Libra, maintaining balance should have become the hardest thing to do. And balance, a simple word, has come to symbolize a great deal to me.

It's so easy to lose sight of what really matters. It's so easy to forget what really matters.

I have cleared my schedule for the next two weeks so I can spend a wonderful unbroken stretch of time working in the studio. I have a show in a few weeks and need some time to finish up certain amounts of things, and make a few new ideas to see if they work. I have lots of goodies for the show, but of course I always want more, more, more! I'm going to really enjoy this and I'll post pictures of what I'm working on.

I am on the local Artists Studio Tour for the first time this fall, which has spurred me to purge a lot of ancient unused crap out of the garage, which is the elegant location of my studio/workspace. (I realize every day how blessed I am that So doesn't crave any garage space and doesn't mind parking outside!) I've painted another wall in a vivid color...a bright screamin' apple green...this is quite a departure for me. I put so much stuff on my walls that I usually prefer them to be soft neutral colors...but the studio space was crying out for color. This particular green really sets off my collection of 1950's plaster wall fruit, just as the vivid blue paint perfectly suits the adjacent Wall of Virgins. Pictures soon.

The next task is to paint my Dad's workbench. My late Dad spent a lot of time puttering in his garage, fixing things and when Mom moved I asked if I could have the workbench. It's a homely old thing that he built himself, with a great large work surface, and a few small drawers below, taken from an old library card catalogue file he picked up somewhere. Currently it's painted a manly battleship grey, I'm thinking it would be much happier in it's new home if it was painted a vivid pink, or possibly a nice intense lilac. I'll cover the top with sheet metal. I'll post pictures and this time I'll remember to do a before and after shot!

Off to work on my balance!

Flora always keeps her balance!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Solstice!

Beautiful as this time of the year is, I just don't get as excited over the Summer Solstice as I do over the Winter Solstice. I suppose this comes from my "Viking" ancestry, when a celebration of the return of the long days made a lot more sense than a celebration of shorter days!
I hope your Solstice was lovely!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Home-Made Wild Strawberry Ice Cream

The wild strawberries are ripening. I snatched an hour between tasks, an hour when it wasn't actually raining, to pick some. (As an aside, I'm starting to wonder if we haven't somehow been transplanted to the Pacific Northwest without realising it as we certainly are experiencing their climate this summer!)

Here is my really easy recipe for Wild Strawberry Ice Cream:

1. Don't cut the grass in the back yard for about 5 years, or until the native plant population re-establishes itself. This will include wild roses, daisies, wild asters, goldenrod, lots of clovers and hopefully, wild strawberries.

2. Remind lawn cutting chappie to not cut the back yard each spring. Run out of house in pajamas, yelling, each spring when he forgets.

3. Monitor process of strawberries. A fine crop of blossoms may come to nothing if it's too dry, or too hot (ha! not this spring!). This year we had plenty of rain, but it's been quite cool...fortunately we had a brief week of hot weather at just the right time. I was pleasantly surprised to see how early the berries were ripening.

4. Pick strawberries. Try to resist eating them...they are so tempting, warm from the sun, fragrant and juicy. Okay, just eat a few. Try to ignore the loud complaints and dive bombing of the red-winged blackbirds and the robins, who protest that the berries are absolutely all for them!!! I leave them plenty!

5. For this recipe you need about 2 1/2-3 cups of wild strawberries. They are small, this is a lot of wild strawberries. You can always freeze (or eat) what you don't use. I pick until the medium green bowl is full, very scientific!

6. Get comfortable, it's going to take a while to hull the berries. Discard any really squishy ones, the birds will enjoy them. Wash thoroughly, as they tend to pick up sand and grit, let them drain well.

7. In a blender or food processor, combine 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 tsp good vanilla extract and the juice of half a lemon. Blend it until everything is well combined. Add 2 1/2-3 cups well-drained wild strawberries, and blend again. The mixture turns a wonderful shade of pink (if someone would make glass this color, beadmakers would fight over it!).

8. Let me save you the trouble of making a batch without pureeing the strawberries. Two years ago I thought it might be interesting to leave half of them wasn't, they turn into rock hard little strawberry bullets. Blended is MUCH better!

9. Pour into your ice-cream maker and freeze as directed. Mine is a Cuisineart. You didn't really think I was going to hand churn this, did you?

10. When it's frozen enough to suit you, pour it into a freeze-able container. Admire it for a few minutes. Isn't it pretty?

Cover it tightly and freeze. Wait until your So comes home to eat it, however, anything left in the freezing bowl is fair game. It's delicious. The tiny berries have a tremendous depth of flavour. I'm fairly sure that even the Queen has never had the pleasure of eating wild strawberry ice cream made with berries she picked herself!

Yield: A bowlful. Probably about 4 cups.

Extra Advice: Wild strawberry patches are not terribly hard to find, but when you pick them please be sure that the location has not been sprayed with chemicals or pesticides. I no longer pick from roadsides for this reason.

Monday, June 16, 2008


There is a teeny tiny sliver of a park near my apartment in town, close to the river. Along one side is a short but rather steep slope, which is gently eroding away to reveal fragments from the past. This is a fancy way of saying that it's a small, old dump site. Not a modern, stinky dump site, judging from the stuff I find it was used until the 1930's, at which point is was abandoned and then included in the park. It's right in the floodplain and there was a huge flood in 1937. Every now and then I spend a pleasant hour or so poking in the dirt with a stick. I love seeing what erodes out of the earth over time. Here are several tips for "Park-eology" when you discover a likely spot in your town!

  • Don't carry a purse so large and heavy that you tip over while you're digging. ( In my defense, I was coming back from the library when this happened)

  • A good digging stick saves your manicure. Since my nails usually look like a little boy's I don't care, but I do like a good sturdy stick for my excavations. If your park has trees...there will be sticks! Shovel? Not so good...a little too obvious!

  • Don't put sharp stuff in your pockets and then forget about it.

  • Two little words: Tetanus shot.

  • If you see something cool, pick it probably won't be able to find it again even 5 minutes later!

  • It's okay to be creeped out by bones.

  • A plastic bag for your finds saves the inside of your $$$ purse (I guess in the minds of some a $$$ purse and digging for junk with a stick just don't go together, I disagree!)

  • Get used to people being curious about what you are doing. I ignore the bike guy who always yells at me that he's going to get me arrested. What's his problem?

  • Keep an eye on City Works and road repairs in your travels, I've found lots of goodies in the dirt turned up by our works crews. And it amuses the crew guys too.

  • Embrace your inner magpie! Grab that sparkly bit and take it home!!!

  • This glass is almost as pretty as the "Roman" glass I saw at Bead and Button...and probably about the same age!

    I'm amazed I found two pieces with "V"'s for my friend Veronica!

    A great tiny intact bottle...and a not-old-but-cool plastic skull!

    Check out the yummy red glass, and the china button!

    I am blessed to find pleasure in small things.

    Sunday, June 15, 2008

    Friday, June 13, 2008


    Sorrow on the earth
    A small speckled perfection
    Will return to dust

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    Goodies From The Bead and Button Show

    Delectable vintage beaded "camel" tassels from Afghanistan, bought at Tika. I spent a long time browsing in their beautiful booth which was packed with wonderful things. Some of these I'll sell, but some will be added to the tribal-style belt I'm making for myself!

    A Temari bead by Emiko Sawamoto

    A Cherry Blossom bead of Satake glass by Akihiro Okhama. Crow Totem bead by fellow Canadian Keri Ruhr.

    Good Luck cat bead by Anne Choi.

    These are the fine silver pieces I made in Anne Mitchell's three day workshop.

    I bought a number of other great bits...vintage coins with loops added for pendants or tribal coin bras, some delightful vintage bottle cap beads, some reverse painted glass Virgin Mary cabs, a vintage silver goddess pendant from India, some silver earwires, discs for bead caps, some pretty pearls, a lot of jasper beads to go with my organic glass beads, some lovely amethyst beads, a mixed strand of faceted gemstone beads in odd, irregular shapes, and a group of serene bone moon face cabochons carved in Bali.
    I found extra tiny mandrels at Arrow Springs, for making teeny weeny beads, and some dichroic glass, and some fine high-fire wire for wired flowers. And at Frantz I bought some lovely new colors of CIM glass to play with.
    This was all purchased with immense willpower and restraint...I wanted to buy and buy and buy! There were two strands of tiny faceted multi-colored sapphire beads that I lusted after, one strand was tiny triangles, the other was briolettes and the color and sparkle were soooo lovely! I visited them several times, but regretfully, I left them behind. I was hard, but "character-building"! (I overheard a woman say that when she reluctantly passed on another expensive strand at the same booth).
    I think I might be shopped out for a while!!

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    Oh, Marlys

    How I love Marlys. Thanks, I WILL put my phone in a band-aid box covered with glitter. How excellent.

    Monday, June 9, 2008


    Home again. I had the most phenomenal time in Milwaukee. I packed so much activity and social interaction and laughter and shopping and creating and good food and coffee and Jack Daniels and strong emotion into such a short time that while I was THERE I didn't have time to be tired. When I got to my gate at the Milwaukee airport that splendid, determined momentum began to gently drift away...leaving me sooooooo slleeeeeepy. My flight was delayed due to bad weather at my destination airport in Flint, Michigan, but only for about half an hour. We boarded, I fastened my seatbelt, fired up my iPod and was asleep before the plane took off. I didn't wake up until we hit some major turbulence which caused some LOUD shrieking from a few soon as things smoothed out I was back asleep. I woke up again when we were a few feet over the runway in Flint.
    So had been waiting for me in the van at the airport, when the weather quickly changed and security rounded everyone up to get inside into the washrooms. She saw a tornado much closer than she really wanted to. But by the time I got there, the sun was out and there was no wind.
    I was pretty blase by this time as we had several serious tornado warnings while I was at the Bead and Button Show...and on Saturday evening we were asked to stay in the classroom until security released us. It was only 6:00 and as dark as night. Shoppers up on the show floor weren't allowed to leave, as that room was fairly safe. There is a lot of glass in the Midwest Center and security were following their protocol. I'm just glad the power didn't go out!
    I don't even know where to begin to tell about my week. I learned a lot and not just from the classes I took.
    I have some beautiful pieces from Anne's three day workshop, and even better, I have good notes and learned skills I can adapt to my own ideas. I'll add pictures tomorrow.
    My Japanese beadmaking class was very interesting, though some technical issues (propane tanks freezing up, propane leaks, torch issues) slowed the first day down a bit. Again, I have good notes and I think a good grasp of the techniques. Once we were finished our cane we only had time to make one bead...and my bead release broke which made it impossible to finish. Still I have my pathetic little bead as reference and look forward to trying again until I have it down. Akihiro is an amazing beadmaker and his work is breathtaking. Emiko was his assistant and translator. They worked hard to make sure we all got the help we needed. I'm not at all tempted by the Japanese torch, I was afraid I might be, but I'm much happier working with the Satake glass on my Minor. That fact saved me a lot of money!
    It was fun to help Anne at Meet the Teacher, I had a bit of time to run around and see a few of the other displays, though not all of them.
    Thursday evening there was a shopping preview, which meant the show was open but only to those taking classes, so it was a great time to wander around and get a sense of what was at the show.
    I really do deserve an award for restraint. Seriously. I'll post details of my delectable and useful and amusing purchases over the next few days. I walked the show floor as time permitted over the next three days and saw as much as I could, though it would take even more time than I had to truly see everything.
    Friday I took Anne's Viking Knit Woven Chain class, which I enjoyed a great deal, and again, I think I have enough of the technique in my brain enough that I can go ahead with it. We worked in 24 g wire, I have a spool of 30g which might be fun to try when this one is finished.
    I had so much fun meeting people. I must preface that by a disclaimer...that for the first few days my enjoyment was muted by my usual tormenting shyness and anxiety. Anyone who doesn't experience this has no idea how painful it can be. I pushed through it and I'm grateful to Anne and to my new friends Cris and Gail for being so understanding. I'm also grateful to my good friend Jack who was remarkably helpful too, haha.
    Once the shy factor subsided I really enjoyed chatting with so many people, strangers and acquaintances alike. It was a delight to meet Gail Moore and Michelle Goldstein. Dear Jean from Nortel asked me if there was anyone I would like her to introduce me to! I took her up on her offer and she introduced me to Jeri Warhaftig. Jean is hoping to bring Jeri to Toronto to teach, which would be fantastic! I would love to be able to make such perfect hollows. Jean also introduced me to Mike Frantz so I could give him a bead for his collection. He chose a Voodoo Fossil bead. Mike in turn introduced me to Griff, who introduced me to Andrea Guarino...I enjoyed chatting with them. I had a chance to say Hi to Amy Johnson and Lucy Weir, Kate McKinnon, Kerri Fuhr and Mary Poineal, and Leah Fairbanks who was one of my first teachers, her work grows more beautiful and inspiring every year. I introduced myself to Karen Bye, who was so kind to me years ago when I first started collecting art beads...and she remembered me!
    I chatted with so many other nice people, including beadmakers and jewelers and toolmakers and importers. I really enjoyed it!
    The amazing Susan Lenart Kazmer was in the classroom next to Anne's and I enjoyed snooping around at what they were doing in there when I had a chance, and later Anne introduced me. A few days later Susan stopped to chat with a group of us at dinner as we were all eating at the same Italian restaurant. She spotted the ring I was wearing and bought it right off of my finger! It was one of my heavy fine silver corset rings with stingray leather texturing. To say I am flattered and delighted is an understatement...I had a little tear or two. (At this point people were getting used to this.) To see Susan Lenart Kazmer wearing one of my rings around the Bead and Button Show was quite a confidence booster. I really did receive some great positive feedback about my work which means a lot and is very, very encouraging.
    This post is as long as a novel and I have still so much more to say...but I'll close by saying that the nightly bedtime beverage sessions were generally the perfect end to the long days...we laughed so much my face hurt. It was a hell of a week.

    Tuesday, June 3, 2008

    Jennifer's Pearlie Fairy Doll

    I just felt like posting this. It's a tiny fairy doll I made out of doll parts dating c.1890-1900, dug out of the ground at a ruined doll factory in Germany. The clothing is made out of a Victorian kid leather glove, plus antique buttons, feathers, stamens, freshwater pearls, and Dresden paper wings. It can be removed from the shadowbox and worn as a pendant.

    It has absolutely nothing at all to do with anything that is going on right now!

    Monday, June 2, 2008

    Live From Milwaukee

    Hello!! I was so busy getting ready to come to the Bead and Button show that I had no interesting thoughts in my head to share for a few days... I was just absorbed in lists, answers to ebay questions, packaging and shipping and preparing the next batch of auctions...which are now live if you care to peruse some lovely vintage and Victorian jewelry. I was also trying to master my cell phone...yes, I have been dragged into the current century, I was probably the last person left in Canada who didn't have one. Thank you Mr Bell, your mission is complete.

    Now I am relaxing in the Milwaukee Hilton, along with Anne's feet and a bottle of vodka, which belongs to Anne's feet. The rest of Anne had no comment and preferred not to be interviewed at this time. In a statement released by her PR firm (Fusenrivet, Inc), she said: "Let the games begin".

    My journey to Milwaukee was perfectly pleasant, I was chauffeured by So, who is ever obliging in this way, even when I fall asleep. I am the most boring car trip companion ever, except when I've had one coffee too many and won't shut up. It actually took longer to drive to the Flint airport than the flight to Milwaukee. Due to the time change I was actually landing in Milwaukee 15 minutes before I left Flint which for some reason truly delights me. Unfortunately when I fly home I have to give it back. Oh well.

    Milwaukee seems to be a lovely city though so far I have only seen the route from the airport to the hotel and about 2 blocks around the Midwest Airline Center. I helped Anne set up her classroom on Saturday and met two of her friends, Cris and Gail, who are truly delightful. They are also in the three-day class. They are hilarious, with a constant stream of banter and insults just loud enough for me to hear and crack up. We laughed so much on Saturday night that my face hurt.

    The Bead and Button Show is fantastically well organized....everything possible seems to have been thought out to make things run smoothly for the instructors and to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for the students. The needs of both seem to have been carefully considered. This is quite amazing for such a HUGE show. At this point there are workshops and master classes going on, the shorter classes start on Wednesday.

    I have learned so much, I have a fine silver chain to show off and the pendant to go with it should be finished tomorrow morning. I am so glad to be here!

    It's going to be a full and busy week!

    The word from home is that Valentine misses me (SO misses me too I'm happy to say!)

    Valli has been looking for me in the office, meowing at the studio door and looking for me under the bed, which is rather puzzling as it's not a place I OR the cat spend much time in. She also says she's not enjoying filling in for me...which isn't an issue as she doesn't do any work anyways!

    I will continue to report with Bead and Button updates as time permits. I am so glad Anne talked me into coming to the show, I'm learning so much and having so much fun. In my recent isolation I had forgotten how much true and simple joy can be found in the company of like-minded individuals. I am blessed!

    Voodoo Fossil Beads from last week: