Saturday, December 27, 2008

BJP Mandalas

I am very excited to share my September-December mandalas with you! I had a difficult time starting, but once I found my groove, I just took off. These are in descending order, from December to September.

December: I received an email from the online catalog, See Jane Run. The figure was a pink ribbon. But I saw energy, gold, and purple.

November: Peace Mandala. I want to grow peace, which is reflected in my garden of peace.

October: This mandala was inspired by a bush in my neighbor's yard. Just as I was about to take a picture of the bush, my neighbor came out of her gate and surprised me. She says it's not actually a "nice" bush, that it has lots of thorns in it. But she agreed that the colors were lovely.

September: I was getting nowhere with my bead embroidery. Finally, I decided to bead a blank slate. Imagine my surprise when a little color creeped in, and some circles, looks like a winter just never know where the beads will take you.

Friday, December 19, 2008

From Sun to Snow

One week we're in Cancun, the next back at home and a major snowstorm. At least one of our son's is home, plus we acquired a snowblower this year (finally).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I just came back from a week in Cancun, Mexico. I was hoping the bright colors and beautiful water would inspire me, but I found Cancun very depressing. In the past, when I've gone to Mexico, I've gone further south and have been exposed to a more traditional Mexico. Cancun is just hotels and shopping, it could be anywhere on a nice beach. But that's where my husband had a conference and that's where I went, too. I love the turquoise water seen in this photo, and the fine white sandy beach. I couldn't do any beading because it was so windy, the beads would have flown all over the beach. I was able to see some beading, though, in the shops, and I admired the patterns and colors used. I bought a few pieces, a necklace and a few bracelets, hoping to somewhat support the women who make them.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving break. Both boys came home, slept a lot, studied a lot, saw their friends. Here they are at various computers around the house - Sam on top studying for his law school tests, and Jason below, probably doing something on Matlab.

Unfortunately, on their way to pick up Sam's girlfriend, just a short drive away, they were rear-ended and the rear of the car is totaled. It was snowing out and slippery, and the car behind them was going too fast and couldn't stop. Luckily everyone was fine, and that's the main thing I care about.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

As those of you who read my blog know, I've been struggling with this years BJP. No creativity, no ideas, no motivation. Nonetheless, I beaded these inchies in the hope that they would lead to something, a spark, an ah-ha moment. But no go. As one of my friends commented, they are nice, but have no soul. I agree, so I'm still searching...

Monday, November 3, 2008


Saturday, October 25, 2008

more photos of "W"

I just wanted to add a few more photos of details from the "W." This shows the lake Donna's house is on, plus part of the long, one lane road to get to her house, as well as gardens. The "W" began in this corner, with a rivoli in the middle of the flower.
We had so much fun making the "W" that each of us wanted to bead more on it than we could. Now Wendy is making a letter for her granddaughter.

Bead Retreat photos

Note: The pictures and story of this entry are out of order - I'm learning to improve my photos and wanted to update this entry to show the better pictures.

Here are some Crystal Elements designed by Leslee Frumin that the group made.

Here are the projects I made at the retreat. The beaded beads is now a bracelet and a pair of earrings.

My weekly bead group had our annual retreat "up north" in Michigan last weekend. This is our 5th year, and a highlight of fall for every one of us. The W below is the house gift we gave our hostess, Donna. Her last name starts with a W. Six of us took turns designing and beading the W over the summer. We picked out "Donna" colors and we included symbolism related to her and the retreat. For instance, the lake her house is on is included, the long road to drive there, and her love of gardening.
We framed the W in a shadow box.

Here is some close up detail.

I woke up to this beautiful sunrise - or storm aftermath - one morning. It was gorgeous.

Here is Donna, who so generously invites us to her northern home each fall.

And here is Kathie, taking a picture of the beading table. She always looks elegant no matter what she is doing.

And finally, this is Wendy below. She looks like she's having a grand old time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Walking in the Rain

I just got back from a walk in the rain. I was hoping to beat it, but no go. So, with my bright pink visor, purple shirt, I ventured out into a whirlwind of rain and leaves. Here's what I noticed - the gold leaves against my purple shirt was a beautiful and regal combination. I tend not to use golds, because there is too much brown in them, but I am going to try them more now, with purple of course. You just never know where you will get inspiration from!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

BJP blogs

People have been putting up their Sept. and Oct. pieces on the blogs and they are divine! The creativity that exists in this world in unbelievable. I want to take it all and solve the world's problems - with art! with beauty! with the generosity of spirit that people show each other!

Today is one of those days that couldn't be more perfect if you ordered it. Leaves changing colors, temperature in the low 70s, football game day (we lost, again).

After struggling (thinking too hard) on my bjp, I think I may have finally found a format that will work. I discovered some hand felted pieces that I bought several years ago. I've been working on one intermittently all this time, but really put effort into it to become my Sept. piece. The only problem is I only have 3 pieces of felt left...but I'm going to go ahead anyway. It's already a crazy year, so why not!

Monday, October 6, 2008

taxes and politics

I have friends and family who will vote for the Republican ticket in the presidential elections next month. This disheartens me to no end. The main reason I hear is because of taxes - they don't want to pay more taxes. For some, it's because they have a very high income and they want to protect their assets. For others, they feel they pay too much. They want their taxes cut. Well, what do they think happens when taxes are cut? How will they receive public services? How will their communities remain nice places to live? How do they think their standard of living will go up?I wish someone would say that it is patriotic to pay taxes, because taxes are what keep our communities and our country running (addendum - Joe Biden did say this during the VP debate).

I have my summer property tax bill right in front of me. It is for $3,179.72. It covers public schools, city services, and county education - special ed and community college. I believe these are all services that benefit my family and community. We have a terrific library. We have beautiful public parks, we have our garbage picked up and our roads plowed in winter. We have children with severe physical and mental disabilities who need special care. Why wouldn't I want to pay for these services?

The taxes I pay through my paycheck mainly come back to me in terms of Medicare and Social Security and are based on my income. Currently I am supporting people who are already on Medicare and Social Security, and the generation behind me will support me.

Of course, there are all kinds of additional taxes. On meals. On material goods. On clothing. On cars, on gas, on cigarettes, on airplane tickets. Taxes are so woven into our lives that it is impossible to even sort them out. So which taxes or what part of taxes are you against? What part of your lifestyle do you want to give up? How will your quality of life improve if you pay less taxes? How much money do you think it will add up to? What will you do with that money that will change the quality of your life so dramatically that you will vote Republican over Democrat?

The Republicans, under the leaderless George W. Bush have destroyed the integrity of our country. They have trashed trust, respect, and honor. They have hijacked honesty. Do those of you who don't want to pay more taxes want to continue this secretive, arrogant, narcissistic, bullying presidency? Is it really worth that much to you not to pay more taxes (vs. tax breaks) in order to bring our country back to one of dignity? I guess we'll find out when we know who our next president is.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bead Creativity

I think I've simply lost my beading creativity for now. I don't know where it is, I've misplaced it somewhere. Nothing is speaking to me. Certainly the beads aren't. Everything looks blah. Everything feels blah. I think this is where part of it has gone - to my worrying about the future of our country. I am so depressed to think that McCain could possibly be our next president. I am so depressed by the havok that Bush has done to our beautiful country these past eight years. The kind of wars we need to be fighting are those against poverty, hunger, lack of education, lack of healthcare, lack of jobs, here, right in our backyard. Of course we have to fight terrorism, too, but at least pick the right terrorists and the right country to fight. I pray every day that Americans vote for Obama and give us our country back.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

September BJP

I am not making much progress, I am afraid I'm going to be a behinder before I even start. I just can't get going. I finally, this past weekend, decided on a shape - a smaller circle than last year - and I decided to use a certain color pallette and see how far I can go with it for every month. I gathered lots of beads of all kinds in the pallette, different sizes and shapes. I put them in a bin with my circles and I'm happy to look at them. They look very nice in the bin. what?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bead class and lunch

Yesterday and today I took a wonderful class from Margie Deeb about color. My head is still spinning from all the different ways to look at color and play with it. When I went to lunch yesterday I noticed a few women beading and went over to see what they were doing. Turns out I knew one of them and met the other. And, the one I know was working on her September page, inspired, she says, by ME! She saw my pages exhibited in Findings and registered for the project. How cool is that!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My favorite and least favorite bead stitches

As I was looking through some of my beadwork, I realize that the one stitch I use consistently is the spiral stitch. It was one of the first stitches I learned. It is easy, versatile, and always looks good. You can change the number, order, and size of beads, embellish the heck out of it, and use all kinds of clasps. It is great for making lariats and adding fringe to the bottom. It is also fast to make, once you choose your beads. I love the double spiral stitch as well.

And now, for my least favorite stitch: Right angle weave. I think if you have a mathematical or analytical mind, RAW is the stitch for you. I am competent in using RAW, and have used it quite a bit for bracelets that I embellish. I can even make a RAW four sided rope for a bracelet or necklace. But do I enjoy it? No way...and it is such a popular stitch right now. Marcia DeCoster and Rachel Nelson Smith excel at RAW and I am in awe of how beautiful their creations are. And that's just the way I like it, looking and enjoying.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I was pretty busy this summer making and finishing up pieces. There are many influences here, including Rachel Nelson-Smith, Laura McCabe, Bead Culture,
NanC Meinhardt, Diane Fitzgerald, Shelly from the Bead Parlor in IN, bead magazines, and even some of my own creativity!

Fall is on its way. I found this wonderful part of a branch on my walk this morning.

Previous Post

My previous post came about as a reaction to the Republican Convention last week, specifically the talks on Wednesday night, in which several of the speakers made fun of Barak Obama for being a social worker and community organizer. I was listening to the convention because I feel it is important to have as much information as possible to make a good decision, and to understand people who have different points of view from me.

I understand that politics is a game, and that the object is to win. But at what risk do you alienate voters in your quest to be number one?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Life's Commitment

In 1981 I received a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan in Community Organization. All the social work I did was connected to the community in order to provide services to people who needed them. I worked for an area agency on aging, providing resources to allow elderly people to remain in their homes. I was able to do this by coordinating care with visiting nurses, meals on wheels, transportation, and housekeeping services to the elderly. When I started working in hospitals, they were community hospitals, so that I had to develop relationships with similar people as above, as well as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers and medical equipment companies. I even had to collect names of facilities that would come out to people's houses and care for their pets, because a lot of people would refuse care unless they knew their pet was being cared for first. I knew where to get clothes for people, where they could get food, where they could sleep if they were homeless, and where to find them if they were homeless. I had contacts within the police and sheriff's departments to look for people if they didn't come in for treatment. I connected people to hospice when it was time to die. I am proud of every single thing I did as a community organization social worker. When I stopped working I did volunteer work in the community. After seven years at one volunteer program, I decided to move on to use my beadwork to create items for charity. I make approximately 6 items a year that are auctioned to raise funds for cancer, for food banks, and for homeless shelters. I am proud of how I have spent my life's work, and I will continue to contribute as long as I can.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Off to College

Okay, both boys left for college this past week. I love the way Jason packed the car. I also love that he just can't wait to leave, look at the expression on his face. It says, can I just leave already? Get off my back, I'll be fine. He pulled out of the driveway and didn't look back or even wave. That's Jason for you.

Here's Sam, leaving for law school (Go, Sam!). Sam is much more organized than Jason, as you can see how neatly the car is packed. Here is with his Dad, looking totally content and ready to start his new adventure.

The house is quiet. Dennis and I don't know what to do after the chaos of the last week and the boys getting ready. We can't bear to look at the mess they've left, so we do the next best thing. We take a walk and sit in a field to watch a sunset.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I am honored to have an exhibit of my BJP pieces at Findings bead store, in Ann Arbor, MI. Gerry, the owner, is a great supporter of her beaders. Thank you Gerry!

The pages look so good displayed. During the year I just kept piling them up in a plastic bag, so seeing them altogether like this I can really appreciate and enjoy viewing them.

Here I am with some of the Wednesday Bead Group. We meet every Wed for beading, lunch, and creative inspiration. From the left are Kathie, me, Wendy, and Hollie.

The 2008 Bead Journal Project starts this September. Registration is still open until Friday, August 15th. It's not too late to join this fantastic group of online beaders.

BJP Exhibit

Yesterday was the "grand opening" of my BJP exhibit at Findings. It was actually very exciting. Three people came in just to see the exhibit. We had coffee and coffeecake and homemade zucchini bread. I felt like an artist! And I hope I inspired people to sign up for next year's project. Here are some pictures, as promised.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Here's something cool - my bead pages are being shown at my local bead store (Findings, in Ann Arbor, MI) and here is the write up in the weekly newsletter. I'll try and get pictures of the display on Wed.

Susan Kolovson dedicated one year to creating a beading journal with a group organized by national bead artist Robin Atkins. The results ~one design for each month ~ are stunning. We are pleased to exhibit Susan's year long journey at Findings. Susan will be in the shop on Wednesday from Noon to 4:00.You can see pictures of Susan's and several other participants of the 2007 Bead Journal Project by visiting It is quite impressive. Those interested in joining Robin (and Susan) in the 2008 journal event can register at this sight. The deadline for signing up is August 15. I know Susan learned a lot about herself and her creativity in the process.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Albuquerque was divine!

Albuquerque is such a great place. The city is large and spread out, it's old and new, and everyone I met was friendly. I visited several bead stores and bought seed beads, cabochons, pressed glass, and of course some turqouise. I also walked, swam, enjoyed the mountains, and, most of all, enjoyed spending time with my husband. Here are some photos from the trip:

Visiting Morwyn (on the left) in her great book store. It was a pleasure to meet her in person and to see her bead journal project, plus an entire case of her bead work.

Some friends invited us over for dinner. We ate outside in their lovely courtyard. The meal was delicious and the company was great. Here is my husband having a conversation with our host, who unfortunately didn't make it into the photo.

Here is Dennis again with his new friend in front of one of the Flying Star restaurants.

This photo shows part of sculpture outside of Elinor Oldham's eclectic bead store. There are quite a few sculptures and I liked the detail on this one and the way it flows.

Back to the Flying Star, here is an indoor mural. My father was in the bakery business and this mural reminds me of many hours spent in the bakery.

And finally, some detail from an indoor column at the Flying Star. Not only is the food good, but the decor is so stimulating, it's like taking an Artist's Date, for those of you familiar with the Artist's Way.
I had hoped to visit KV in Las Cruces, but it didn't work out, much to my disappointment. But I fully expect to be back in New Mexico in the future. Both my husband and I like it very much and my husband has a sabbatical coming up, so who knows???

But for now it's back to regular life, working on the magazine I copy edit, sorting out my new beads, thinking about next year's journal project, and enjoying summer.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Visiting Albuquerque

I am visiting my husband, who is spending the summer in Albuquerque. I love Albuquerque! I am so glad I came. We took a wonderful walk this morning and walked by an acquantaince of his and his wife and had a delightful talk. The weather is great, a clear sunny morning.

On Monday I will start visiting the bead stores, of which there are many here.

I'll take pictures and post them of my visit. Lots of outdoor art, interesting scenery (when you're from Michigan), and anything that catches my eye.

Be back soon!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Gorgeous Garden

My rock garden was kind of barren this year. I asked my neighbor, who loves to garden, if she would help me. And just as we beaders think about colors and finishes and sizes, so do gardeners. Dottie spends all winter reading books about plants, looking at their size, color, leaf shapes, and draws out her ideas. And then when spring comes, she spends all her time gardening. In particular, she likes digging up and moving plants until they feel just right. Wait 'til you see what she did with my garden, or, as I say, our garden.

First off, though, is the windmill that my husband made from a kit. He had fun making it, but I have to say I was a little shocked when I saw that he put it right on the front lawn! It kind of broke up the flow of the gardens between my neighbors house and ours.
The garden is kidney shaped.
This is the fuschia end of the garden, bright and happy.
This section is the green transition from fuschia to purple.
And this end is yellows, including a hybrid black eyed Susan!My son is going to mulch the garden tomorrow and it will look even better, plus hold the moisture from the water.

Thank you, Dottie, for being the best neighbor!

(I don't know why there are lines under my writing, or why some of the colors are different. If anyone knows how to fix this please tell me!!!)