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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

free rice

Have you seen the FreeRice website? You go to the home page and play a word game where you click on the correct meaning of the given word, and when you're right, you "earn" 20 grains of rice. The rice is paid for by sponsors and distributed by the United Nations World Food Program. How cool is that? We can all expand our vocabularies and help feed people at the same time. I'm majorly distracted by this game. I'm even looking into becoming a sponsor because I think it's so great on many levels. Wish I'd thought of it! (My spell-checker says "majorly" is not a word... we know better) Thanks go to Kate McKinnon, who is always way ahead of me on the coolest-hippest web findings. Come on everybody! Let's go play!

Help end world hunger

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

free betty

A friend handed me this postcard the other night. Pretty effective I think. I had no idea Helen Keller owned a Pit Bull. And Stephen Kilborn is an all-around nice guy, and well respected Taos Artist, so he lends some validity to Betty's plea. Still... I'm not sure I'd want to adopt a Pit Bull... I know a lot of people who say they're very sweet when treated right, but still, I have to admit I'm afraid of them. It's a safe bet that our own dear Lucy is part Pit, since she's a "Taos Trail Mix" dog, and they all have pit in them. In Lucy's case, it seems to be diluted enough by other breeds that it's not a problem... except for her odd little habit of growling and snapping at children. I do wish we could get her past that one, but we can't figure out why she does it. We need a Dog Psychic.

Thank Goodness Lucy likes Heidi-the-Wiener-Dog. We have happy news! We get to adopt Heidi in just a few weeks! Her Mom, Barb, who is the Kappa House Mom, is leaving Kappa and moving back to be with family in Ohio. She can't take Heidi with her, and asked if we might like to have her come to live with us. We're so excited! We love this funny little dog beyond all reason. And she and Lucy have spent many happy times romping and playing, so I know she's a good addition to the family. We'll pick her up when we go to Lauren's graduation in ABQ in the middle of May. I don't know what to be more thrilled about - my kid graduating from college, or bringing Heidi home to stay!

You know you'll be hearing lots more about both of these big events. Meanwhile, send some good thoughts Betty's way. I'm sure there are good homes for her and her friends. The trick is finding them, and I really hope they do.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

the fish who loved me

I adopted a goldfish named Freddy over two years ago, when Lauren's boyfriend needed a fish sitter while he was in Hawaii. When he came back to claim his fish, I wouldn't give it back. Freddy was happy with me, and I actually remembered to clean his bowl, which I'd heard was something of a challenge for the Boyfriend in question. Not long after getting Freddy settled in, I decided he might like some company, so I got another goldfish, a humble 39-cent feeder fish from the pet store. It was white with a red spot on its forehead, so I named it Target, and proclaimed them both "he"s since it's really hard to tell with fish.

These guys got along great, and were always happy little bubble-blowing greeters whenever I walked by them. OK, maybe they just wanted food, but they responded more to me than to anyone else, so they were at least smart enough to know who it was that did most of the feeding. I found them a beautiful vintage rectangular glass "battery box" tank on ebay, and decorated it seasonally (they had a Santa this year for Christmas). I kept their home clean, talked to them often, and really enjoyed having them around. They became Family, silly as that might sound.

Well, as goldfish will do, Target started showing signs of old age recently. He became sort of sad looking and lethargic. He began doing odd headstands and other floating tricks. Freddy - always the hardier fish - appeared to be taking care of Target. He'd swim close to him and cuddle up along side of him. He'd even rest his little fishy chin on Target's tail as if to say, Don't worry, buddy. I'll watch out for you. Imagine my shock when one morning, about two weeks ago, there was Freddy, the healthy one, floating in a very unhealthy - meaning dead - way at the top of the tank. It was so sad. So unexpected. How long do little goldfish live anyway? It seemed like he had a good long life, but still... I just didn't see it coming.

So there was poor lonely Target, still not doing well, and now with no Freddy to care for him. Of course I stepped in and doubled up on the attention. I spent a lot of time talking to him and petting his tummy through the glass. When I changed the water, I gently scooped him up with my hand so I wouldn't squash him with a net. As the next week went by, I noticed him seeming weaker and weaker by the day, and fully expected to find him floating every morning. But he kept hanging on. He'd lie there on the bottom of the tank, barely moving until I walked by, and then he'd muster up a little surge of energy, just for me I'm sure. It's true. He got "happy" every time he saw me, so I neglected my work quite a bit to spend time with him. I thought he was a goner last Saturday, but last night, there he still was, wiggling weakly but clearly struggling. Poor little guy. I crawled into bed, tired from a long day and a nice evening out, and then remembered that I hadn't said good-night to Target. I'd told him I would, and I do like to keep my promises, even to goldfish. So I got up again and went to the kitchen. I rubbed my finger along the side of the tank and said, Nighty-night Target. You're an amazing fish. Do what you have to do...

Of course he couldn't last forever. This morning I found him, not floating at the top, but resting for good at the bottom of the tank, right where I'd left him last night. I didn't fall apart and cry, but I did sigh deeply and say some like, ohhhhh...... It was time for him to go, and he was an inspirational little guy, to be sure. A lot of people would have flushed him long ago, but I felt it was up to him to keep going as long as he wanted to. It wasn't my choice. And you know, I have to say the last two weeks with Target have been really quite lovely and meaningful. Go figure. All that from a goldfish.

We are not fish-flushers. We buried him under the rose bushes outside the kitchen, next to Freddy. I won't get more fish until after we move, but I'll pack up the nice old tank and keep it safe for the next fish family. If you've never had goldfish, I recommend them! Get one. You'll see.

Now to lighten the mood a bit, here's a funny picture I took one day while I was cleaning Freddy and Target's tank. I'd transfer them to this measuring cup and set them on the counter. This particular day Rick had brought home some sushi, and I set them next to it without thinking... I'm pretty sure my fishies were a little nervous at the sight of the sushi! Oh, how insensitive of me.

Farewell my Fish Friends! Freddy and Target, you were the coolest.

Friday, April 25, 2008

outta touch

Northern New Mexico has a major BIFF yesterday. In tech terms, that's a Backhoe Induced Fiber-optic Failure. Somebody got crazy with a digging machine in Santa Fe yesterday morning and just like that, everybody was cut off from the world. How odd when we're so used to being connected at every second of the day. Actually, I don't know why it doesn't happen more often. Imagine doing anything precise with a toy this size...

It wasn't too bad from my side of the cheese. I took a day off with Rick, and nothing terribly important happened while I was disconnected. But poor Lauren... she tried to call my cell phone, then tried email, them finally tried the house phone, only to be told it had been disconnected. She thought we'd moved without telling her! I'm a Mean Mom, but not that mean!

By afternoon the phones were back, but still no internet until today. So now it's a mad scramble to get back to everyone who thinks I disappeared. I'm usually so good at answering my mail, but not today. Sorry y'all! I need to get a few beads made this afternoon, and then I need to go out this evening... Yes I need to. I'll get to those emails tomorrow... no worries!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

happy earth day to you

Happy Earth Day! I think every day should be Earth Day if we want to keep living here, but at least we have this one little moment to stop and go, huh... maybe there's more we can do... I'm not sure how actually "green" it is to make beads out of trash-glass, but I'm really happy with the look of them at least. Don't you think these are the most beautiful garbage you've ever seen? These beads started out as a wine bottle!

And Happy BIRTHday to my niece, Kelsey! She was 16 yesterday. I sent her this necklace, made with auto-glass beads to give her some good juju when she gets her driver's license!

And speaking of recycling. I just found out about SolesUnited. They take old Crocs shoes, shred 'em up, and recycle them into new shoes that are donated to people in need around the world. I'm a big fan of Crocs already, but now I have an even better excuse to buy new shoes. when they're old and worn out, I'll turn them in and give them a second life!

Here's to our Mother Earth. Let's all do something nice for her today. And every day!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

camping with tom jones

I was gifted with a most wonderful CD the other day - Tom Jones - Greatest Hits. It was a drive-by gift, handed to me by my friend Karena, from her car window to mine, as we left the Kultur Cafe the other day. (I always think of Boy George and want to call the place the Culture Club) I popped the CD right into my player and listened to it, cracking up and singing my head off, all the way home. When he got to What's New Pussycat?, I went deep into the forests of Nostalgia Land, back to a memorable camping trip from my childhood...

We were one of those Camping Families. We never flew on planes or stayed in hotels (or even motels), never went to exotic destinations, except for one trip to Disneyland, if that counts. We always spend our family summer vacations camping in California. This particular year we were in Charity Meadows, in the Sierras, sort of near Lake Tahoe. My sisters and I must have been really young, because I remember us all wearing our matching turquoise hooded sweatshirts, and we all had whistles around our necks, which we were supposed to blow really loud if we got lost. Pom-Pom, the yappy little brown poodle was along for the trip, and Mom had warned us to always keep her on a leash because a hawk might swoop down and eat her, thinking she was a rabbit or something. Bizarre new levels of fear can be introduced to kids on a camping trip that they'd never experience in the suburbs of San Jose.

There was a giant boulder, as big as a house, at the back of our campsite. Someplace there's a picture of my sisters and me, with our little sweatshirts and whistles, sitting way up on top of that rock. It was a terrific rock, but of course we couldn't play on it by ourselves because we could have fallen off, broken our necks, and been eaten by hawks along with the poodle.

One of the days we were there, my dad decided to hike up to a nearby lake and do some fishing. All of us girls stayed back at the camp, painting rocks, drinking Tang, and eating baloney-on-raisin-bread sandwiches with American cheese and Miracle Whip. And Mom had brought along a radio, which got one little station that as far as I can remember had only two songs. I swear it's a true story. All day long we heard nothing but Where Are You Going, My Little One, Little One, and yep, What's New Pussycat. Quite the soundtrack for a campout.

The day went on, the music played, the sun went down, and my dad still wasn't back. This was way pre-cell phones, there was nobody else in the camp ground, and Mom didn't drive. She was understandably pretty worked up over the whole thing, and by the time poor Daddy wandered back to camp, happy from a solitary day in the wilderness, Mom was about ready to hitchhike home and call a divorce lawyer.

Eventually they made up, of course. More sandwiches were eaten. We painted more rocks. Tom Jones kept singing. Weirdest camping trip I ever went on, but I'll always have a soft spot for Tom Jones, turquoise sweatshirts, hawks, and Tang.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Charlie Musselwhite

charlie musselwhite

We went to see Charlie Musselwhite last night at the Kachina Lodge. It was billed as an "all ages" event, but I tell you I counted only six people in the entire place who were under 21, and one of those was a tiny baby. Otherwise it was a sea of gray heads, bouncing in unison to some of the best blues you could ever hope to hear. I swear to you, 90% of the audience was over 50, which doesn't surprise me really. Most young'uns these days never heard of Charlie Musselwhite. So sad for them. But what did surprise me was how I felt like I was at a high school dance. This was no night club, baby. It was a large, dark room, with poor stage lighting, a scattering of round banquet tables, and some rows of chairs up front. Everyone (not me) was squished to the front near the stage, filling the large dance floor, but mostly just standing there, bopping up and down, being up close and personal with the musicians. The "bar" in the back of the room served water. That's it. Water. Granted, we all need proper hydration at this altitude, but you know, sometimes a person wants a little more of a tasty beverage to go along with her delta blues experience. In order to get such a beverage, we had to walk all the way through the hotel to the real bar, and then had to sit there until we'd finished our refreshments, well out of earshot of the music. Ridiculous. Needless to say, there probably weren't a lot of tipsy people driving home after the show, but I kind of think we're all old enough to figure out our own limits...

Anyway, the music was great. Truly great. And we all had a good time (and no headache this morning). For those of you too young to know who this Old Blues Guy is, check out the newfangled YouTube video above to help you catch up... I don't care who you are - old, young, or not really sure, it's always good to get up and shake that thang...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

busy day

The big Realtor's Tour is today, so once again, I'm banished from my house for a while. It's OK. We buried a statue of St. Joseph in the yard yesterday, and now I'm kind of enjoying my time wandering around. I'm discovering some of the cool places to hang out, like Taos Java, which I've never been to until today. What a great little place, and they have wireless internet. I feel so... urban.

I also sort of feel like I'm in my own house. The decor is similar, and they have the same furniture we have in our dining room. Same beautiful recycled teak tables, and matching, very uncomfortable, chairs. They give me a backache when I sit too long, so it's good I only have about an hour or so to kill. Or spend.

Julia's on her way to meet me in a few minutes, so I can catch up on what she's doing these days. A little company will be great. And then tonight Rick and I are meeting friends and going to see Charlie Musselwhite at the Kachina Lodge. Should be a good ol' ass-skakin' time.

So that's my day, with a little bit of work in between. I made a killer silver necklace yesterday. I want to keep it, but I won't. Check my website in a day or two... I think I need to wear it tonight.

Scattered, scattered... talk to you later!

Monday, April 14, 2008

we're getting warmer

The sun is back. Yay! We sat on the patio with our coffee-tea-toast this morning. Wonderful. Beyond wonderful. I am full of wonder...

Tomorrow is the big realtor's tour, where they pop around to all the new listings to see what's what on the market. Makes sense. If you're a personal shopper, you need to know what's in the store. But I sort of feel like I'm throwing a party for people I don't know, and who won't even let me join them. I guess I'm hoping to sell them on my house so they can sell it to someone else. Pretty complicated when I give it too much thought.

I had a Bad Yurt Dream last night... we had a small yurt to live in, but had to set it up in the back parking lot of a Chinese restaurant. People walked through our yurt to get to the restaurant, and we had to use the employee's bathroom in the back of the restaurant kitchen because we didn't have one of our own. The place came with crappy built-in furniture, tiny bunk beds, and the plastic windows were so high I could only peep out if I stood on my tip-toes...

I have to admit to having some Yurt Anxiety lately. Here we are, selling a beautiful, comfortable, solid house, and looking into moving to what is more or less a tent. Of course we plan to do the canvas yurt thing as a temporary start-up, so we can be mortgage free for the first time ever, and build a more permanent wooden yurt over a year or two once we get settled. But I say more permanent rather than permanent because I also know that nothing on this planet is permanent, including the planet herself. Don't mind me. I'm just having a momentary freak-out. I'll catch my breath in a minute.

I've been doing some yurt research this morning, to ease my mind. It's helping. There's a lot going on out there. Lots of people doing what we want to do, and lots of good information. I even found a yurt company in Santa Fe. Who knew! They make "portable" yurts with actual glass windows and solid-panel interior walls. I find this very exciting. Lattice walls don't really do it for me. They make my eyes go goofy and make me feel like I'm in a giant play pen. We're planning a field trip to visit the Santa Fe folks later this week. I want to see these yurts up close and personal. I want to touch them and sniff them and see if we can be friends (the yurts, not the people). We've put our wishes into motion. I think we'll know soon what we'll actually get. I know we'll get what we need. I wonder if we even know what we want.

Spirit Mountain Yurts in Santa Fe

Saturday, April 12, 2008

man, we're so high...

I was reading the Yarn Harlot's blog the other day, and laughing when she talked about how difficult it was to function in Denver's mile high altitude. It's true, a mile from sea level is way the hell up there, and for flat landers, catching your breath can be the main focus of the day. Here in Taos we're at 7,000 feet. And even though I'm quite used to the lack of oxygen by now, I'm not used to seeing snow on daffodils. It just seems wrong, but of course that's me being silly... again. We got two inches of snow last night. Very pretty this morning, under a sky so sharp and blue it could poke your eyes out. But can I admit I'm tired of it? And then can I slap my own silly face and tell me to snap out of it? At least we're not in one of those places that's flooding or blowing away or any number of other Terrible Things that can happen. In a way, we're safe here on the top of the world. As long as Los Alamos doesn't spring a leak, there's not much that can get us.

We showed the house again yesterday. Still no takers. Ah well. We'll just keep cleaning and fluffing and making cookies until the right person comes along. I call it "waiting for further instructions", but sometimes it feels more like being chained to Taos. I suspect this feeling of captivity has something to do with my current obsession with making silver chains. I can't stop. I don't want to stop. I want to take this seemingly-stuck situation and express it in metal and glass and fire. You'll see. Lemonade long before lemonade season. Hang on little daffodil! Things are changing faster than we know.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

adventures in real estate land

The standard agreement when selling a house is to have twenty-four hours notice when someone wants to have a look. This is Taos, and times are tough, so when our agent called yesterday at 11:30 in the morning, and asked if some folks could come by at 2:00, I said, "Well sure! No problem!" I may have exaggerated a little bit...

I figured I'd zip through and tidy things up in a half hour, and still have time to make a few beads before Lucy and I had to be out of here. But while I was dusting and de-cluttering, I remembered some feng shui advice I'd been reading recently. That's when a quick tidy-up turned into a full blown scrubbing usually reserved for only the Most Important Visitors. After all, a prospective buyer is an important visitor, and we need to treat every one of them as someone who might actually envision themselves living here.

I now understand that the twenty-four hour thing is a very good idea. Even one short week of "no lookers" can let a house lapse into a comfortable level of lived-in messiness that takes a lot of work to sort out. The idea is to make it all look at un lived-in as possible. Nice and neutral, without a lot of personal stuff getting in the way of a buyer's ability to see their own personal selves living here. Remember that old song that went, "If I knew you were come I'd-a baked a cake..."? Well, if I knew these folks were coming, I sure would not have made hard boiled eggs in the morning. You know the smell. And it's not easy to cover up, especially with only two and a half hours notice. I tried boiling a bunch of cinnamon, but that didn't do much. So in the middle of all the cleaning, I baked cookies. Yes, I did. But I didn't say I made them, only baked them. Thank God for the Pillsbury Dough Boy, that's all I got to say.

The last step, with only a few minutes to spare, was to take out all the trash. We don't hoard it or anything, but we have waste baskets in the office and bathrooms, and of course the kitchen. It all had to go in order to create a good-feng-shui harmonious feeling in the house. As I reached the front door, which is an important first impression sort of place, I saw the most enormous black widow spider I've ever seen, sitting on the threshold like some kind of creepy welcoming committee. What might that say to someone before they even step foot in the door? No time to ponder. I whipped off my rubber shoe and squished it. Twice.

Just before 2:00, I loaded Lucy into the car, and off we went to the park, for a nice walk. She has never been properly socialized, so she doesn't like most people. Little kids are especially scary to her. So poor girl, I kept a muzzle on her the whole time, which in turn, scares the little kids. Next time I think we'll try going someplace else.

Back home a bit after 3:00, totally exhausted, and still needing to get some actual work done, I had a most heart warming moment. The generous plate of cookies I'd left out for the Lookers was nearly empty; only one left, and a Thank You note on the back of the agent's card. I ate the last cookie and wandered off to the studio...

No offers on the house as of this morning, but still, I think it was worth the effort.

Monday, April 07, 2008

new earrings

I've been collecting earrings since I was twelve, and was finally allowed to have my ears pierced. I still have the very first pair of earrings I ever got. They were a Christmas present that year, and they were the signal that the time had come to start poking holes in my body. What a happy, happy day that was for me! Those little gold hoops meant I was Grown Up. And ever since then, I can't remember a single day that I've gone without decorating my ears. I've even gone so far as to buy a pair of earrings if I somehow dashed out of the house without putting some on. And I remember one time, when I was a waitress in Gardnerville, Nevada, and had to be at work at 5-AM-for-goodness-sakes... I grabbed two earrings off my dresser in the dark, and accidentally discovered the joys of mis-matched embellishments. Another fine day, indeed.

Since then, I've collected mostly large and interesting earrings, since it takes a lot to be seen through my hair. Even when I worked for the U.S. Forest Service in McKinleyville, California, they referred to me as the "cute little girl with the braids and the earrings". There I was, stuffing seedlings in bags by the thousands every day, so tired I could barely move by quitting time, but I always had killer earrings.

My collection is impressive. I've never counted, but I'd estimate A Whole Bunch. And once I started making my own, there was no stopping me. You know how it is. Sometimes you just need some new earrings. I find this is true quite often. So I always bring tools and wire to bead shows, in case I need to make some during a lull in the show. And then there are times like last night, when I need something new to wear to a party. Clothes are too much effort, but earrings can happen in an instant, and they always fit. I mean I wear clothes too, but they certainly aren't the focal point of my outfit. That's where the ones at the top of this entry come in. I've been playing with fusing silver into chains since Anne Mitchell showed me how at Kate McKinnon's place last year in Tucson. These earrings are my own hand made chains and ear wires, embellished with dangly little lavender cubic zirconia drops. Quite festive for an evening out, don't you think?

And then this afternoon I was finishing my work day, and I just thought maybe another similar pair, a little less formal, would be ever so nice. So now I have these with the faceted turquoise drops. I'm wearing them now. They're wonderful and swingy and make me feel just plain good. Tomorrow... I don't know... maybe I'll be OK with these for a few days. Then again, what about some of my own glass beads swinging from some edgy oxidized silver chains...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

out of the wreckage

A few days ago I told you about the neighbor kid who smashed his mom's car into our tree, and the beads I made out of the broken glass. Scroll down if you missed it. I took it another step here with this necklace. The entire strand is made of auto glass, and the heart is hollow. I filled it with 3mm cubic zirconias. Well over 100 of them, I guess. Then I strung it all together with sterling silver and white Swarovski crystals. I'll put it up for sale soon, but not until I get a chance to wear it. A necklace, just like a car, needs a good test drive.

If you want to make your own necklace, I have some similar sets of beads on my website this week. Hollow hearts with matching spacers. And not all of them are auto glass... I still use fancy Italian glass too. Visit the BeadShop and see! And if you're interested in this particular necklace, drop me a note. A good offer might just take it home.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

steppin' out tonight

We don't get out much, and I have the wardrobe to prove it. But tonight I'll dig through the closet for something presentable, and then add some killer beads to the mix. We're heading down to the Taos Inn to see local legend Bill Hearne, or more accurately, the Bill Hearne Trio, in which my friend Cathy Faber plays a beautiful old upright bass, and sings like a bird. I don't much care for contemporary country music, but I like the old cowboy kind of stuff. If you do too, buy a CD, or email me quick and I'll pick one up for you tonight and have it autographed! And of course, if you're in Taos, come on out and join us. It's a good night for music, nachos, and margaritas in "the Living Room of Taos". Cheers!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

attention bubbleheads

To keep yesterday's theme going, I made some bubble wand jewelry. Believe me, you're going to want one of these. But you're going to have to make it yourself. I have enough to do. These are copper and silver with little glass beads. I've made them with all sterling before, and those are particularly nice for gifts. I propose an International Bubble Movement (IBM? Hmmm... Sure, why not!) Bubblerheads can get together for Bubble Fests, wand-making parties, and to compare notes on the Best Bubble Juice. We can insist on Bubble Breaks at work. Just imagine if all the smokers who hang around doorways stinking up public air would all become Bubblers instead! What a wonderful world it would be... And we can even include our pets! I've seen flavored bubble juice made especially for dogs. Yum! Bacon Bubbles! Imagine the possibilities!

Now, my friends, get going on your bubble wand jewelry. And I'll share one little tip... take it off when it's bubble blowing time, and then rinse it and dry it before putting it back on. Otherwise you'll have soapy bubble juice all over your clothes, which is generally frowned upon in the corporate world.

(And a quick note on the big hunks of glass in the picture... they're leftovers from some glass factory. I got these in Utah, but I've seen them around in lots of places. Mine live in a flower pot by the front door. Rick will plant petunias there soon, but I can't grow anything but glass.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

april phooey

I just want to say, I'm not a big fan of April Fool's Day. I like a good joke as much as anyone, but this silly day has devolved into an excuse to play mean tricks on each other. I don't want to play! I want to start a new tradition... something like April Nice Day, where we all go out and buy each other lunch or something. It needs work, and maybe a better name. So until I get it all sorted out, I'm hiding here at home where nobody can get me. It's a beautiful spring day. How about if we all just go outside and blow bubbles?