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Friday, January 30, 2009

aloha... from taos

Freezing cold? Need a vacation? Rather surf than ice skate down your driveway?
Our friends, Jerry and Janine Sprout are the authors of several wonderful Hawaii travel guide books, and now they have a gorgeous photo blog.

Take your eyes on vacation, and maybe the rest of you will think it's there too...
Hawaii Photo Bank - Adventures Deposited Daily

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

happy birthday danny and lauren

I haven't been here much, and I'm sorry about that. Really. I love my blog, and those who read it. I'm just insanely busy this week... and last... I'm doing some crazy website updates, and creating a really nice slide show on Ethiopia, with captions and continuity in one tidy package. It's taking much longer than I expected. Ha! Expectations! We all know where those get us!

But I need to pop in here quickly to wish my darling babies Happy Birthdays. Danny and Lauren both have their birthdays this week, and true to over-worked-mom form, I'm having them share the birthday spotlight one more time. They hated doing that when they were little, and most of the time I managed to pull off two happy parties with only one day in between. But this year, sorry kids, you get all my love and good wishes in one big pile here, and you have to share the best you can! Happy Birthday to my beautiful, all-grown-up children! I'm so proud of who you are, and that I got to be the one to get you here. Mmmmmwwwwaaah! Big Kiss!

OK then. Back to work, and I'll get back here soon. I hope.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Who's happy? You, I hope! Man, I know I am! I'm still floating on an Obama High, and I'm thrilled to see how many people feel the same way. Back a few months, when I had the gall to publicly support Obama on my own blog, the response was so darn ugly in some cases, I wondered (briefly) if I'd be smarter to just shut up about that I think, and switch to something safer, like shoes or favorite recipes.

As it turns out, I did lose a couple of customers over it, but I gained many, many more. And not only people who agreed with me politically - some didn't - but certainly open-minded, big-hearted people who know that we've come to a place where we need to speak our minds as well as our hearts, and work together for the common good, despite our differences. Those are the people I want to surround myself with, in my business, and in my life. I think some of the ones who left me might begin to change their minds now. That would be lovely on so many levels, especially for them, since they cut themselves off from the beads they love, hoping to teach me a lesson. In a way, they did teach me something - that it's best to be honest and real about who we are and what we stand for, and that I was right to speak up. I'm grateful, and I promise, if they come back around this playground, I will not neener-neener them. I'll give 'em a big smooch and say Welcome! We all missed you! Let's get together, yeah, yeah, yeah!

And now here we are, beginning again, full of hope and energy and a sense of community I haven't felt in a very long time. On this cold January day, it warms me to my very toes to see the proof all around me that as a nation, we're better than we thought we were, and together, we've got the stuff to keep on proving it, to ourselves, and to the world. Happy? That word doesn't begin to touch it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

happy inauguration day!

I was wide awake long before the sun came up this morning, as excited as I remember being as a kid on Christmas. An hour later, I'm not only awake, I'm showered and dressed and ready to go to D&T's for an Inauguration-watching Breakfast. I'm so excited I can hardly sit still here, so I'll make it quick.

Today is such a big day, not only for our country, but for the world. I'm so darn proud of us for electing Obama. And for the first time in many years, I'm proud to be an American. I'm also intensely grateful to be alive at this point in time, to be here to see all this, and to feel an optimism and sense of hope the world hasn't had in a long, long time.

I even made Obama Marbles yesterday. They aren't very good, but I just needed to pour some of my creative happiness into some glass. Today is a day of big celebration. But tomorrow there's work to be done. No matter what side of the fence we were on back in November, the gates are all open now, and we're all in this together. We're playing for all the marbles, and I have faith that along with our wonderful new president, we'll do a terrific job.

Welcome President Obama!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

finding my marbles

I was the Marble Queen in school when I was a kid. Every day I'd set off for school with my big green MJB coffee can, filled with my precious collection. Mom was into making those over-sized bunches of resin grapes, so I had a "boulder" that was about the size of a tennis ball. I whooped poor Billy Halstrom on a regular basis...

I don't know what ever happened to my marble collection, same as I don't know what happened to my Barbies or my Screaming Yellow Zonkers Circus Poster. But a couple of weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at making marbles. It's similar to making beads, but since there's no mandrel involved, the finishing touches can be a tricky little balancing act. Some of my marbles come out more like eggs, but I'm getting better the more I practice. Not sure what I'll do with them, but they're fun to just have sitting there, collecting sunlight in a bowl on the kitchen table. My Work Ethic says Sell 'em, while my Inner Marble Queen says, Maybe you can fill another coffee can... just for fun.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I heard Marianne Williamson say something yesterday that really caught my attention. I don't have the exact quote, but it was something like, "We're not unhappy because of what we're not getting. We're unhappy because of what we're not giving." I could expand on that, but I think it might be better if we each dig into it on our own.

Unhappy? Take a close look at the real reasons.
Happy? Look even closer, and pay attention!
Whatever we're doing in either case can be repeated.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

knitting my way to ethiopia

It has been suggested to me that the best way to help my beloved friends in Ethiopia might not be to send them money, but to send them myself, to help them learn to earn their own money. Hmmm... It kind of makes sense, doesn't it? My Felted Bag Project is not leaping off the ground, even though the bags are beautiful and lots of people love them. I know... the stinkin' economy, blah, blah, blah... But anyway, here's what I think I'll do. Rather than make a cash donation to Project Mercy for each bag sold, I'm going to stash the money in an account tagged for Travel To Ethiopia. We hope to go again next fall, and fundraising has to start early. One way or another, I'm going to find an excuse to knit - if I need one. This way I'll be "knitting my way to Ethiopia". That's gonna take a lot of yarn... Want a bag? Visit my Shop. I've just reduced the prices a bit too. I want to sell these babies!

And something cool I heard about yesterday - Wayne Dyer has a new movie out, called Ambition To Meaning. You can buy it by clicking the link, or watch it for FREE, today only. I'm going to see if I can get it to load on my laptop while I make beads later. I love Wayne Dyer's accessible spirituality. Not too woo-woo. Not religious. Just a lot of good, thoughtful stuff we can all use. Make yourself some popcorn and do a little personal growth at the same time!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

well ok then

Have I said it out loud yet? It looks like we're staying in Taos for a while...

You know how it is. We're all in the same leaky little boat, bailing as fast as we can. (Anybody out there on a yacht? Please go to my website and buy some beads!) The good news, I guess, is that we're going to refinance the house, and it should go through with no trouble. The other side of that coin is, by refinancing, we're committing to staying in this house, and Taos, for at least a couple more years. So we took it off the market, but of course it's still unofficially for sale. You can still see is here, at least for now. But we're aren't desperate, and won't "dump" it in this crummy market, so we'll likely sit here with it until things improve, and then raise the price like crazy. We've been getting used to the idea for a while now, so it's not feeling like a total defeat. What we've learned is there's just not much use in making plans. Might as well just daydream and hope for the best. And really... there are worse places to be stuck.

Good news today - Rick got a job. He's working at the lovely Sagebrush Inn, doing.... we don't really know yet. They had him drive down to Albuquerque last night to scoop up some guests at the airport. He loves to drive, which is a good thing because they sent him back again this morning. I think they're going to have him do all sorts of things, so he can fill in where he's needed. That will suit him fine. And good help is so hard to find in Taos, these folks must be happy-dancing all over the place, wondering how they got so lucky. They are lucky to have him. He's awesome.

So here we are, again, still. OK. I can do this. At least we still have a house. Oregon will wait, or maybe we're supposed to do something else completely. Still can't see any farther than I can see... know what I mean?

Monday, January 12, 2009

who gives a knit?

It's shaping up to be a busy Monday, so I won't keep you long...
I have a ton of stuff to do today, but all the while, I'll be looking forward to the evening, when I can relax by the fire with my boyfriend (he's much too dreamy to call him a husband), and knit. I finished a lovely felted bag last night. Pink with little black Caviar Beads knitted in. It's drying in the bathtub at this very moment. So now I have the happy chore of choosing the next colors and design, and look forward to casting on those first stitches. It's an adventure, knitting is. And not just for little old ladies in rocking chairs. Knitting is sexy. Knitting is hip. Knitting rocks without a chair to help it.

So my question today is...

Who knits? Come on. Admit it. You're among friends. Look - you can even join the Facebook group called Knitting Is Sexy. I'm there, of course.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I'm not sure why, but I have a Facebook page. It's just the thing to do these days. I have MySpace too, only because Tom Hanks does, and what's good enough for Tom is good enough for me. Besides, we share a birthday, which is cool. Much cooler than another of our birthday twins... OJ Simpson. PeeeeUuuuuu. Anyway, Lauren, my very hip daughter, has told me that MySpace is no good. Facebook is the place to be. So I'm only working on that page right now. Maybe it's good advertising for my bead biz and for the HOPE Bracelet Project. And maybe it's just some good silly fun. Nothing wrong with that.

I've spent too long messing with it this morning. I can't seem to get myself off the couch. Literally. My body hurts, and, well, it's because of another Katy George Incident. Katy, as I've mentioned before, is a fabulous clothing and hat designer, and she also delivers flowers all over town every Thursday. With our personal downsizing of darn near everything, this week was the last "Katy Day" for a while. This makes me sad, because when I can't afford flowers, Katy can't afford something else. I tried to make her feel better by telling her she was the last thing we cut out. Even vodka was cut out before Katy was. That says a lot.

So there we were, hugging good-bye in the driveway. No hard feelings. We are friends. Katy got in her car and backed up to turn around, but went a little too far, and sunk into the deep snow. Rick wasn't home to help, so I went for a shovel and some boards. We dug and I pushed, and pushed, and pushed. More digging, more pushing, and on like that for a good twenty minutes. Cars are heavier than they look. When she finally got going, I was totally exhausted. Today is the Second Day After, and now I'm in serious pain. My whole body hurts, and I might just stay on this couch, dinking with Facebook, all day long. I'm not at all sure I can get up. Katy! If you read this, no hard feelings! Honest! I think it's pretty funny that when we get together, we live big and loud, and someone is likely to get hurt. Like the River Incident, it always makes a good story! We are not wimps.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Reflections On Ethiopia - for Noel and Tammy

The one thing Noel and Tammy Cunningham asked of the group who went to Ethiopia was that we each write a "reflection" piece after we returned. They hoped we would do this in the first week, while it was still fresh in our minds. But I found I needed more time to "compost". So here it is. I thought I'd share it with all of you, but this is really for Noel and Tammy, with great love and appreciation.

Of the many, many images that so often come to mind from our trip to Ethiopia, there are three that stand out the most for me. The first is the old man who asked Marta for money, as we traveled along the road to Butajira one day. Having no cash with her, she asked if she could borrow one birr to give to him. The smallest note I had was ten birr - about the equivalent of one dollar - so I handed it over, and asked if it could be my gift to him. With tears in her eyes, Marta told me that the man had no family and no one to help him, and that the money I'd given him would feed him for a week. She told me that I would be in his prayers and I would have his blessings. This seemed like more gratitude than my small deed deserved, but then again, how do we really know what is "small"? When I think of that day, I'm reminded that everything we do for another person counts for something. No excuses - we can all do something.

The trip to the Mother Teresa orphanage in Addis Ababa was painful and wonderful, all at the same time. Near the end of the tour, in a room full of toddlers, I scooped up a tiny girl, and took a small stick from her hand, knowing it was the closest thing she had to a toy, but worried that she might choke on it. I still have that stick, and every time I look at it I see her little face, so close to mine, and her little hand, so willing to share her treasure. She didn't know that she was "lacking" a room full of toys. The only thing she really wanted was love, and that's something there really is no shortage of. When we think we have nothing to give, we're wrong. We can always share a little love.

The third thing that stays with me almost constantly is the image of a local village woman, draped in skirts and scarves, sitting under a tree in the Project Mercy compound. As we walked by her, Marta said, "She's looking for a job." She talked to the woman for a minute, and then left her there under the tree. The next day she was there again, and again the day after that. I think part of the interview process there is this test of commitment. A person who is willing to patiently sit under a tree, day after day, might prove to be worthy of the job they're seeking.

It's one month and a few days since Rick and I returned from Ethiopia. The holidays have come and gone, and a winter storm drifts white and dreamy outside the windows of our house. We're firmly, at least physically, planted back at home now, back to something like normal, but we now suspect that we'll never be quite the same as before we left. I still think of the old man and the little girl every single day. And I feel so much like the woman under the tree. I have no idea what comes next for me, but I feel like I'm waiting under a tree too. If I'm patient, and I wait there long enough, maybe the next step - the "job" I'm looking for - will find me.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

down the road

I've been feeling kind of dismal lately. Times are hard. We all know this. We all feel it. And while I know I have much to be grateful for, I still couldn't shake off this feeling of everything is wrong. Everything isn't wrong, of course, but sometimes we just have to go through the dark times. It's where we learn some of the most important stuff, even though is sucks to be there.

After half a day spent on the computer yesterday, I dragged myself off the couch and went out for a walk. It was clear and sunny and just beautiful outside - much clearer than my own head. And I started up the road, muttering to myself about all the things that were bothering me. I grumbled about money, about our decision to refinance the house and stay in Taos another year or two, about the possibility of having to get a real job for the first time in 16 years, and then about my feeling that nothing I do here matters much to anyone, while everything I did in Ethiopia mattered a lot. What am I doing here anyway? The "answer" I got was: Well then, find something to do here that does matter. What, what, what??? was my next question, but there was no obvious answer.

I walked on up the road, noticing that it looked like it just ended up there at the top, while I knew and trusted that it turned left and right and kept going, even though I couldn't see it from where I was... kind of like Life. We walk along through it, thinking we should be able to see the future and plan for it, when in reality, we don't know what's ahead of us until we get to it. I kept walking, thinking how I trusted the road to offer options once I got to a certain point, and getting that I need to trust Life to do the same. The road under my feet is all I need to be concerned with at the moment.

I still don't know what to "do", but it was a good walk. Think I'll go again today and see what the road has to say.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

to knit with love

Maia sent me a link to this nifty scarf pattern, thinking it would work well with my new Caviar Beads. I think she's right. I want to make one, so I thought some of you might too. It's called the Amulet Scarf, and the free pattern can be found here at KnitPicks.

Just think of all the things you can do with this! Gather up all sorts of meaningful little doo-dads, and knit 'em into a fuzzy treasure for yourself or someone wonderful. If you come up with one of these, or something else fabulous, using my Caviar Beads, send me a picture. I'm gathering images to post someplace for inspiration!

Haven't seen the new beads yet? Here they are. Compared to most of my other beads, these are istsy-bitsy things, shown here with size seven knitting needles. They're made in small batches from hand mixed glass, they're properly annealed (duh!), the holes are nice and smooth, and I clean each one with a diamond burr, so there's no chalky bead release left to flake off on your yarn. I'm using some in a knitted bag, and the hole size was easy to string on worsted weight yarn with the help of a thin bit of wire, bent in half and used as a needle. I think they're really quite wonderful.

Happy Knitting!

Monday, January 05, 2009

snow day

This is what I saw when I woke up this morning. These cold, cold things, snow and glass, warm my heart unreasonably. It started to snow here night before last, and kept going all day yesterday and into the night. The clouds are lifting a little bit today, so maybe we'll have the contrast of icy blue sky against the blinding white by tomorrow. It's nice deep snow. The kind that makes skiers hearts sing. The kind that makes extra work for Rick. The kind the birds seem not to even notice. And the kind the dogs do not love...

Poor little Heidi went on a "poop strike" yesterday. Even with her coat and boots, she refused to do any kind of business other than sleep by the fire. I worried that she might explode, but this morning she was able to go outside without snow falling in her face. She's OK now. Aren't you glad to know that?

Lucy is a tougher dog... with longer legs... so she romps around out there and catches snowballs in her mouth. She seems to tolerate her red sweatshirt, although I'm sure she's embarrassed if the neighborhood dogs see her...

Rick has brought in fire wood and dug out the car so he can get out of the driveway. He's about to go into town to look for a job. I hate that he has to, but I can't afford to pay him to be my Lovely Assistant/Business Manager anymore. He's being a very good sport about it though, and who knows... One thing always leads to another. This could open doors we don't even know are there yet. As for me, I'll be in the studio all day. It's a nice view. Might be inspiring. At the very least, it's warm out there.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

low-tech winter

I don't have an iPod, a hi-def flat screen TV, a Blackberry, a Wii, a GPS, a Mac, an iPhone, an Xbox, or a Kindle. I resist much of this, knowing that there's a certain amount of technology I have to keep up with just to function in this world. I have what I need, and these days I'm paying extra close attention to the difference between "need" and "want", and to my own personal definition of "luxury".

I do have a hot tub. It's just big enough for two people, and while I do think of it as something of a luxury item, I also credit it for eliminating the need/want for trips to Ojo Caliente Hot Springs, vacations to tropical beaches, a massage therapist to un-kink my beadmaker's shoulders, or a shrink-therapist to un-kink my head. This morning, feeling the need for all of the above, I tromped through the snow in my swimsuit and flip-flops, and settled into the steamy water while snowflakes fell softly on my towel-wrapped head, my glasses, and my book. An actual book, made out of paper. I know the whole downloadable book gizmo craze has its merits, saving trees and bookshelf space and all. But I can't cozy up to an electronic plastic thingy that just glares back at me and never learned how to rustle its pages. Just can't.

In a nice satisfying stretch of insomnia last night, I finished The Secret Life Of Bees. Next in the To Read stack on my night stand was Three Cups Of Tea, sent to me in previously read condition by my friend Laura. (Thanks Laura!) I'll read it and pass it along too, doing my own bit to save a tree, if I can actually part with this book once I've finished it. I only got through the introduction this morning before the snowflakes started coming down too hard for me to see anymore, leaving puckery wet splotches on the already well-loved pages. But I can tell already, this book is going to speak to me in a big way.

So here I am, back in the house. The warm dry house we've decided to stay in for a while longer, waiting out whatever it is that's happening, and waiting for whatever it is that's going to happen next. It's comforting beyond measure to have this nest to cozy up in, with its minimal technology, a stack of good books, and more than enough tea to sip through the snowy afternoons.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


This picture was actually taken a few nights ago, at Katy George's house. Katy is a hat maker who has lived in Paris. She is always fabulous. This little red hat was sitting on the table when we walked in, and it was just so perfect with my Ethiopian shawl. I wore it all evening, and borrowed it when we left the party to move on to another engagement at the Taos Inn. It's not normally what I would wear, but it was so much fun. I could become a hat person.

Last night we stayed home and had a super small party. Karena was the only guest. We played records (yes, records!), and talked and laughed all evening. A total blast. We're moving a little bit slowly today, but so far, this new year is starting off to be a good one. I don't have any idea what to expect, and even my fireplace wishes last night were vague. How can I know what I want? How can I plan for what I can't see? This year, for a change, I'm trusting the Universe to know what's best for me. An old Wendy Waldman song has been running through my head for days. It's called Back By Fall, and the line that's looping through my consciousness is, "Mama, mend the hole in my coat. Take my guitar off the wall. I've got to go see what I can do, and I hope I'll be back by fall..." Could this be a hint? A theme song for the year? Too soon to tell...

Here's to all of us having everything we need in 2009. Trust! Cheers!