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Monday, December 31, 2007

looking both ways

If you happened to drive by my house early this morning, you would have seen a weird lady in a pink bathrobe, red tea kettle in one hand, a carrot in the other, and a camera around her neck, standing in the snow, freezing wind blowing her tumbleweed hair all around her face...

OK... it was me. And this is the picture I took of the last sunrise of 2007. The tea kettle was for adding warm water to the bird baths, and the carrot was for the little rabbit who lives in our wood pile. I didn't stay long. It was damn cold, but worth the effort.

All the holiday guests have gone home now, and it's a quiet day here in Taos. After days and days of activity, it's nice to be sitting in my pj's at noon, looking out at the blinding blue sky, and just sort of thinking about nothing in particular. I like to take a look back at the year just passed before I put a lot of energy into the one beginning tomorrow. 2007 was good. Challenging and good. No regrets, coyote. And thanks to everyone who made it possible. If I could change anything, I guess I'd make it all last a bit longer. Of course we can't stop Time, but we can dance with it as gracefully as we know how, and we can learn new steps along the way.

I need this day, this one little day, to catch my breath and get ready for 2008. We're about to voluntarily turn our world upside down, and I can't wait to get started. The biggest plan in the works is the move to Oregon. Time to start sorting and packing. We're ready to go. We'll need to sell this house and find the New Place, but those are just details. What? Me worry?

I'm also adding a new "line" to my work. More on that later. It will be a bit odd, and will put some people off, I'm sure. But hose who like the idea will outnumber the poo-poo-ers... I think.

Then there's the violin. No, I didn't get one for Christmas. It was too much responsibility for Rick to get that for me. I shouldn't have dumped that on him. Over the years, I've learned that it's silly to expect anyone else to make my dreams come true... mommy, daddy, Santa, hubby, lottery... It's really all up to me to make my own magic happen. So I'll buy that violin when the time feels right. Listen for me down by the river or near the campfire at night... in a few years when I can play more than Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Enjoy this day. Stand in the middle and look both ways. The traffic is clear. Throw out the map, and decide where to go next.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


HehHeh... this holiday has really gone to the dogs! The humans are having a wonderful, jolly time too, but somehow, most of my pictures are dog pictures. So here you go - a little bit of our Christmas in Taos. Woof! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

merry christmas eve eve

All of our guests are arriving today, so Rick and Julia went to the airport (an all day trip) to pick up my niece Kelsey, and then my son Danny. Lauren and I are home taking care of last minute details and waiting for my sister Linda, her hubby Steve, and the two dogs to pull into the driveway. Everyone will be in late this evening, so I'm going to sneak out to the annual Michael Hearne Sing-Along at the OBL, where Lauren will be working tonight. I don't really have time... There are so many things to do... You know how it is... It can become madness if you let it...

Back in my early beadmaking days, I made long necklaces on hand twisted silk thread. I knotted sections every couple of inches, and each section of beads was different. At first it was hard to decide what beads to put together. Random grabbing wasn't right. I wanted to create balance in each little segment, as well as a completed piece that worked as a whole. I learned pretty quickly to simply start with one bead, and then find the next bead that looked best with that. My early impulses to save the "best beads" faded, and I soon realized that the next best bead would always be a different bead. At some point I relaxed and always picked the best bead. Amazingly, there were endless numbers of best beads.

Today I have a million little things to do. And I'm stringing this day, and probably the next few days, one thing at a time. Kind of like those necklaces, I'm picking the most important thing to do, and then the next and then the next. It looks like I'll even get them all done, and it will probably all work together to make a darn good holiday for all concerned. That's my job this week. I'm stringing up some magic for my family, and loving every minute of it.

Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas (or other Fabulous Holiday of your choice).
I'll be back in a few days with pictures. Carry on... one "bead" at a time!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

cookie time

It's time to take a break from beads and get serious about baking some cookies! I've done a couple of batches of cream cheese chocolate chip cookies. The recipe is from this month's Oprah Magazine. I've been reading in one of the forums that people are not happy with the recipe. I dunno... the first time I made them I went by the recipe, but used whole wheat flour. They're great! The second time through I added chopped, dried cherries and walnuts. Oh my...... need to make more. I think the next batch will have a little less flour because I want them to be more chewy, less fluffy. Here's the recipe, and a picture too... on someone else's lovely blog! Just Off Magazine

Today I'll make my old family favorite, Date Balls. They're a total sugar-butter bomb, but soooo wonderful. Mom got the recipe from Aunt Camy forever ago, and I can't remember a Christmas without them. Here's my old recipe card, in my own high school handwriting...

And since several of our holiday guests will be dogs, I baked Dog Cookies too! This recipe from is a real hit with Lucy and her little pal Heidi.

4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tsp. garlic powder
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cup shredded cheese
1 1/4 cup milk

Combine flour and garlic powder in a large bowl.

Gradually stir-in vegetable oil, cheese, beaten egg, milk and blend well. Roll-out dough to desired thickness. Cut-out treats and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 25 minutes at 400°F.

Cool before storing. Note: cooking time may vary depending upon thickness.

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your ovens!

Monday, December 17, 2007

dan fogelberg

I had a note from an old friend in my email box this morning. He was gently letting me know that Dan Fogelberg died on Sunday. How entirely sweet of my old pal Bruce, to remember that I was a huge Fogelberg fan back in high school. Bruce was a drummer, so played and listened to different music than I did, but still, he remembered... I find that awfully touching, since we only manage to check in with each other once or twice a year now.

Anyway, yes, I did love Dan Fogelberg. Would have married him... or James Taylor... or both. Would have been a tough choice. I always wished for a beautiful man who would write songs for me. It didn't quite happen that way, but now I do have my beautiful Rick, who will sing to me now and then, and likes to twirl me in a funny dance in the driveway. I think I got exactly what I wanted.

Even though Rick is not a Dan Fogelberg fan, I know he'll indulge me this evening when I ask him to dig out the old LPs and crank up the turntable. I want to listen to that music on the same vinyl I practically played the grooves off of way back when. Of course I didn't really know him, but he was part of my teenage life all those years ago, and I want to raise a glass and wish him a good journey. He was a good part of my journey here...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

time to rest... well, in a minute...

We all work hard, don't we? I don't know too many slackers, and when I find out who they are, I generally stay away from them. So I can't whine about how hard I have it. I don't. I live a charmed life, and I take at least half the credit for making it that way. Other people and Divine Assistance do the rest, but truth is, a charmed life requires personal effort.

The year is speeding to the finish line now, and we're busy prepping for a house full of beloved visitors. It's time for me to stop work for a bit and take care of family and friends... oh yeah, and me! And it seems that even our house is telling me to just take a break already.

The other night, half the electricity went out. Only half. Some things worked, and some didn't. We went to bed that night hoping the problem would somehow heal itself while we slept, but in the morning we found that we needed to make coffee in the bathroom and toast in the office. We had running water, but it wasn't heating, and the stereo wouldn't play, and the stove would only get a little bit warm.

Thankfully, it was the power company's problem, and they sent a couple of sturdy guys out to dig a big hole in the frozen street on Saturday morning. It was fixed in time to clean up and go to a party, so no big deal... except that I didn't really listen to the "take a break message".

I decided to hold a quick last minute sale on Monday, which meant spending all say today photographing and posting beads. But really, I promise to back away from the computer and the studio for a week or so.... just as soon as the sale is over and the beads are mailed. Hey, you know what I always say... A girl's gotta make a living.

Monday, December 10, 2007

welcome to my house

This kind of says it... snow in Taos. Yay!
By the way, the house is for sale - or will be very soon.
Maybe you'll be the next owner... hmmmm....

more about the music!

This morning I got a note from one of Fred Waring's actual Pennsylvanians! How cool is the internet, that he found my blog through a Google search... this is wonderful!

I was talking to my Dad the other day. He has a computer, but rarely uses it... OK, he rarely even plugs it in. I keep encouraging him to have a look around, but so far, he's resisting. We were talking about something or other, and the internet came up again as a place to find more information. He said he just didn't want to get started because there must be hundreds of websites out there, maybe even thousands... I had to chuckle and tell him it's more like millions, which I'm sure has scared him off the web forever. And then he said, "And is it all over the world???". Oy! You know, my dad is not a dummy, and he's not senile. I guess I'm sort of surprised to learn that there are probably lots of average Americans who have no connection to or interest in the internet. Seems so odd to me, since I couldn't make a living without it!

Anyway, Pete, the Pennsylvanian, found me, and sent a nice note about his continued connection to all things Fred Waring. His quoted email follows, and I so urge you to pick up some of the most fun and wonderful Christmas music ever recorded. Now I'm inspired to explore beyond the holiday stuff. There's so much more!

I came across your blog page and was delighted to read that you are a Fred Waring fan (especially at this time of year). I have Fred's name and the "Pennsylvanians" entered into a Google News search engine, and it brings me daily listings of all the Waring postings on the Internet. Why, you ask? Well, I was a member of the Pennsylvanians for 5 years and still keep in close contact with the organization. Just before Fred died in 1984, he arranged for all his papers, choral arrangements, radio and television show air checks, photos and memorabilia to be housed at Penn State University, his alma mater. Today, the Fred Waring's America Collection is a marvelous storehouse of showbiz history of the 20th century.

As for the scratchy Christmas albums you mentioned, you may want to visit the Collection's site ( and look under "Sales." There are lots of recordings for sale, including the Christmas albums you mentioned on your site.

Shoot me a note if I can be of any further assistance...Merry Christmas!

Pete Misiak"

Sunday, December 09, 2007

in the spirit

So we went to Ledoux Street last night, and it was raining. Never seen rain here in December, and it turned Ledoux into more of a LeDon't. All the luminaria bags got soaked and the candles went out. Quite sad really. The whole town looks forward to this, and a lot of people do a lot of work to make it happen. We stayed about ten minutes, and decided it was too "Seattle" for us, so we walked through the plaza and across the street to the Taos Inn, for the lighting of the Christmas Tree.

That was predictably wonderful, and we somehow lucked into the best seats in the house, and ran into some friends too. Then it started snowing. Yes! This was more like it.

My favorite part of the entire evening was when I was outside with my little three-year-old neighbor, looking at the team of rustic, folk art log reindeer. They were almost as tall as he was, and he kept pointing to them and saying, "It's the Cwithmas Sthpiwit." Huh? The little circle of wooden deer was the Christmas Spirit? Well... OK then. Then he said, "I wanna get in!" Huh?, says me again... You wanna get in? OH! You wanna get in the Christmas Spirit! (Yay me! I cracked the code!) Giddy as a three-year-old on hot chocolate, I picked him up and set him inside the ring of reindeer, magically transporting both of us to The Christmas Spirit. Kids know a thing or two.

So, today we decorated our own little Christmas Tree, and then went to town to see the local violin school kids perform. Yes, I still want a violin. I might wait until we're in Oregon, when I theoretically will have some actual time to play it. But these kids have me all kinds of inspired. They're so good. And so real and sweet and just having fun. Not too serious, that's the way I want to go at it too. Again, I'm learning from the kids. Here's a video I got at the end of the concert. We know one of the girls in the middle (Hi Laura! Great job!), so we had sort of an excuse to go. But the truth is, we would have gone even if we didn't know any of them.

And now, since I'm on a roll, I'm going to go bake some cookies. HoHoHo!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

taos christmas

This is a big night in Taos. One of my favorites each year, actually. It's the annual "Lighting of Ledoux Street", when all the galleries along the small, winding street open their doors, serve treats, build little "camp fires" in the court yards, and line the entire street with farolitos, which are also called luminarias... paper bags with candles in them. The whole town comes out to stroll and visit. It's one of those things that makes visitors fall in love with the place, and reminds weary residents of why we came here. Now if it will just stop raining and add some snow to the scene, it will be perfect.

We'll be there. Wouldn't miss it. We'll also hit the Taos Inn for the tree lighting, the John Dunn shops for their firelight open house, and finally, El Monte Sagrado, for the African music that's happening there tonight. It's our last Christmas Season in Taos. We don't want to miss a thing.

This image by Steve Immel Photography

Friday, December 07, 2007

sugarplum beads

These are, by far, the most popular beads this week. Could be the name. SugarPlums do sound yummy, and quite seasonal, which is no accident. But maybe it's the sweet simplicity of them that has people all frenzied over snapping them up. Maybe I'm over-thinking it, but part of my job... or one of my many jobs... is to figure out what's selling and why. I love to go all over the place with mad, rampant creativity, but sadly, that's not always what people want to buy. Sweet and simple pays the bills, while art for self-expression keeps me sane. I still won't do custom orders, but just so you know, I do pay attention to what people want more of. OK... I'll admit it... I want some of these too. I might even make a whole strand of them for myself. Yep, these are good beads.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

flaming tea kettle

We woke up a little bit late this morning. Just tired in these days of so much busy-ness. Rick went in to start the coffee, and to put the kettle on for my tea. I used to drink buckets of coffee, but recently, I think it was in September, I just stopped one day without planning to. Odd. Tea is nice though, and I don't want coffee at all unless it might be a nice Eggnog Latte with a little splash of whiskey in it...

So I could hear that the water was about to boil, and wandered into the kitchen to see the cheery red tea kettle engulfed in flames. Yikes! That's some hot water! Quick - roll up sleeve of bathrobe, snatch kettle out of the flames, turn off burner, grab lid to soup pot to smother fire. You know - I play with fire every day. It doesn't really freak me out too much when stray popcorn bursts into flames.

Two memos from The Universe this morning... 1. It's time to change the liner pans under the burners, and 2. Maybe think about making some teapot beads today.

This is not my tea kettle. I was too busy to stop and do a painting of it. Besides, I don't paint, and my tea kettle is red. I just wanted a picture because pictures are nice in a blog, I think. I found this on an interesting blog called InkTracks. It's about one person's art and process. I've marked it as something to go back to. An added bonus to the Fire Messages from God.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

i love christmas music...

Yes, it's true, and I'm not ashamed to admit it... I love Christmas music. I bring it all out the day after Thanksgiving, and play it non-stop until Christmas Day. I'd start sooner, but Rick has a little something to say about it... a little.

We have a pretty good collection now. Everything from Dean Martin and Bing Crosby to Diana Krall and James Taylor. We have local New Mexico Christmas CDs, lots of Orchestral Stuff, the Vienna Boy's Choir, and even some more neutral "Solstice Music" for when we get tired of all the jingle jingle.

But my all time favorite is the one I grew up with. Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians. I adore their silly, jazzy versions of Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Twas the Night Before Christmas. Mom had the record when we were kids. Some years later, my sister held a microphone up to the stereo and recorded it to a cassette tape - skips and all. Later, my son took that tape and transferred it to CD, so we all have copies of it now, in all it's skippy, scratchy glory. My kids love it too, because I made good and sure it became part of their childhood.

For some reason, this morning I decided to go looking for a clean new copy of it on CD. I look every year, mostly because I want to know I can replace it if I ever lose it. I've never found the album Mom had, but today I did find the one pictured above, with all the favorite old songs, plus a lot of others I don't have yet. What excitement! Oh Jolly Joy!

I ordered it, of course. I hope it gets here soon. I want lots of time to play it over and over while I make beads. Jolly Jingle Beads... ah, I wonder how I can make the beads jingle...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

mean people

You've probably seen the bumper sticker that says, "Mean People Suck". Well, amen to that, sistah! I got a truly mean and nasty email about my new website this morning, and yes, it hurt my feelings. Email has made it "safe" to attack relative strangers, without having to look them in the eye and see the harm that "mere words" can do. It always stuns me when someone feels so comfortable being so petty and icky. I did recover quickly though, because I know that Mean People almost always have something going on in themselves that has nothing to do with the people they feel so free to offend. It wasn't about me!

But it did remind me of my always-kind friend, Deborah, who told me about some nifty "kindness" bracelets. I found the website, and ordered some, pronto! They're terrific! They have the word "kindness" printed on them in 17 languages. A nice little tap on the shoulder for all of us. A gentle reminder that it's just as easy to be a sweet-pea as it is to be a beast. Maybe easier. Yes, I think so...

This time of year we all think more about peace on earth. Every little one of us has the power to changes things. We always need to choose our words carefully. I know I need to remember that!

Want to order some Kindness Bracelets for you and all your friends? Here's the website.