Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My snow tree

So here it is, the one and only photo I have of my family's snowing Christmas tree.
From Christmas 1972. I was 12 when I took the picture. The kids in front of it are my sister and 2 brothers. Behind them you can see the cardboard snow collection basin. You can also sort of see the flat plastic bottom of the angel that deflected the snow downward. I wish you could see it snow! I'll have to bug my mom some day and see if she has a better picture!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

More Christmas Kitsch....

Not my current kitsch, but my favorite kitsch from my childhood. Super kitschy kitsch. When I was kid we had an honest to goodness SNOWING Christmas tree. I was seven when we moved from a tiny little cape cod in Huntington, New York, to new, big tri-level house in the Chicago suburbs. We put up our Christmas tree in out big lower level family, but since the living room and dining room was upstairs, my mom thought we needed some decoration upstairs too. So one year before Christmas we were out shopping, at a Marshal Fields outlet store I think, when my parents stumbled upon this bargain artificial tree that couldn't be resisted. A SNOWING artificial tree! The tree sat in this big octagonal cardboard basin what was assembled by connecting cardboard panels with wing nuts. At the base of the tree sat a small vacuum pump, which attached to a tube that ran alongside the trunk of the tree. The angel attached to tube. Into the basin you dumped a huge bagfull of tiny styrofoam balls. When you turned on the noisy pump it sucked up the stryofoam snow, shot it up the tube, where it hit the bottom of the angel then showered down upon the tree. The tree came with all the lights, and beautiful set of coordinated ornaments, all silky thread and glitter cord wrapped styrofoam, which was quite in vogue at the time. I think there were also fake plastic gingerbread men and candycanes and maybe some other sugar plum sort of things. All for, as I recall, $35.

My siblings and I thought it was the most wonderful, magnificent thing, and it certainly livened up the living room. We thought we were pretty special to have the only snowing christmas tree of anyone we knew. It was a pain to assemble the whole thing, and after a many years, and 2 states and houses later, my dad refused to have anything to do with putting up that %^$*#$ tree. So my sibs and I put it up, and eventually it was relegated to a spot in the basement rec room. I wonder what happened to that tree. Shortly after I moved to Utah, my parents moved to Florida,and I know they didn't take the tree with them. I've never thought to ask what became of the tree. Perhaps one of my sibs still has it, I'm not sure. I'm sure if it's around it's pretty shabby. I'd still love to see it again!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas class or kitsch?

So what kind of Christmas decorator are you? Are you a classy, sophisticated decorator? A trendy one? A cute one? A kitshy one? A schizophrenic mix of many types? I suppose that in many ways I am the latter. Deep in my heart I am a bit of a naturalist, I love natural decorations; greenery, pinecones, berries. But then there is the other side of me, the one that loves the glitz and sparkle, the side of me that likes to indulge in beautiful European glass Christmas ornaments. While I love my glass snowmen and Santa's, my favorite glass ornaments are the round or oblong or even fancier shaped ones that have those decorated depressions in the sides that remind me of kaleidoscopes.

Of course what I like is different from reality. As much as I would like my home festooned in natural greenery, greenery is expensive, and shelling out $55 for the tree an $15 for the door wreath pretty much taps out the greenery budget. The year I made a beautiful evergreen garland for my mantle it dried out so fast I was afraid it would start a fire. So much for greenery.

My tree has many ornaments, including all my beloved blown glass, many handmade ornaments, and the wonderful ornaments my kids made when they were very young. Then there are the weird ornaments that for the most part were gifts, that make me a little nuts. Like the pink and white Power Rangers ornaments. When my kids were small they loved the TV show the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. So one year for Christmas my mom-in-law gave the kids power ranger Christmas ornaments. I have to say they have never exactly been my favorites. Plastic superheros simply aren’t my vision for Christmas. So every year I would try to discretely position them so they weren’t so obvious. As we decorated the tree this year, my daughter said “You can’t move power rangers this year mom” as she purposely hung the pink power ranger front and center on the tree.

So this year I am stuck. But I guess it doesn’t really matter as those power rangers are now Christmas tradition. I’m now even kind of sentimental about them, as they remind me of my mom-in-law, who’s now gone. (But given my druthers I’d still put them more towards the back of the tree!)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The curse gods...

Do suppose that there could possibly be some kind of curse god who hands out bizarre, random, lifelong curses to people?

The clutch on my husbands 18 month old Hyundai went out this week. If that isn’t bad enough, the dealership calls and says that the clutch and transmission were both bad (to the tune of $3600), and that it ‘s not covered by the warranty because of the “non standard” transmission parts they have found on out car. Huh???. We march down to the dealer where they point at areas in our torn apart car and say that part is wrong, it’s too big, look where someone drilled out this hole, look at this pin, the part color is even wrong…. blah, blah, blah. We of course are dumbfounded because we bought the car new from the dealer, have never had anything done to it other than oil changes and tires. I don’t think that our city has a weird band of thieves that go around replacing car parts in the middle of the night. And who in their right mine would buy a car with a 10,000 mile warranty and then take it to someone other than the dealer to have a major repair done? We rightfully so, pitch a fit, insisting that they should be fixing our car, and after getting pretty huffy and even mentioning the “L” word (lawyer) they finally agreed to cover the repair. I’m not sure they really believed us as they kept insisting they have never a seen a car like ours with those particular transmission parts. I hate feeling like someone is calling me dishonest, and of course we have no way to prove that we have not had some weird repair job done on our car. (How do you prove a non-event?) I was pretty cranky. Unfortunately they later called us and said they wouldn’t cover the clutch portion after all, because the clutch only has a 12,000 mile warranty. I guess that will be our argument with them tomorrow Did the weird transmission cause the clutch to fail prematurely?? Who wants a $1000 repair bill for Christmas? Argh!!

Now this brings me to the curse part. Does my husband have some kind of clutch curse? Is there some strange god up there dolling out curses and it is my husbands lot in life to get cars with lousy clutches? Flashback to ’85 when the clutch failed on his less than 2 year old Honda. We were heading to Park City to celebrate out 1st anniversary, and were 60 miles from our home when the clutch went out. We had it towed to a dealership in Salt Lake and they replaced the clutch, which was of course no longer under warranty. The clutch started slipping before we made it the 40 miles home. So we took it to the Ogden dealership, who repaired it a second time. That clutch repair lasted about 2 weeks longer than the 90 day warranty. At that point we said “screw the Honda dealers” and took it to Mort’s Transmissions, a local shop run by a couple of Iranian guys who mostly fixed Mercedes. Those guys could fix cars! That clutch job lasted quite a few years.. Eventually the clutch went out again, and since we’d moved to Salt Lake we took it to some local yocals for the repair. (We were fools, we should have had it towed 40 miles to our buddy Mort’s!) This time the clutch started slipping before the car made it the 6 miles home and we had to fight with shop to get it re-repaired. I think the clutch failed again after that. If my memory serves we has 5 clutch repairs in 150,000 miles.

By now you must be thinking whoa, these people must not know how to drive a stick. Rest assured that is not true. Some where along the line we were told that particular year Honda had a “weird” clutch design and this Hyundai thing is just plain weird, all I can assume is that a part got put on the wrong assembly line and some moron installed it anyway. So are we cursed? Or is my husband cursed? My little silver Dodge Shadow went over 120,000 miles without having any repairs to the clutch. But that was primarily my car, does this mean the clutch curse is really my husbands? Or does the curse only apply to cars beginning with an “H”? Or only to cars that are red? Will it be our lot in life to forever deal with problem clutches? Are other people plagued by weird curses like this? Or are we just some of the lucky few who get visited by the curse gods?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Beware of the Children

So... in the spirit of the season should I remove the "Beware of the Children" sign from my front door for Christmas? I think not. With my daughter being sort of crippled, we've had even more than the usual quota of kids hanging around so it seems like useful signage to me. She's managing to get around pretty well on her crutches, although her "good" leg and arms are now sore too. She actually walked a couple of blocks to her friend Allie's house on Friday. I was amazed she could make it that far on crutches. From there they wanted to go to another friends house that was even further away. At that point she was pretty tired and didn't think she could do it, but her friends, being the resourcefull kids they are, figured out a solution. They got Allie's little brother's red wagon out of the garage, put Sarah in it, wrapped her in a blanket and pulled her the couple blocks to their friends house. I would have loved to have had a picture of that!

Thursday, December 14, 2006


That’s the number of steps to get from the parking lot at my daughter’s school to her locker. She broke her foot Monday night and today was her first day back school. She’s going to have fun negotiating her way around on crutches this month. At least yesterday the weather warmed up, so the ice is no longer a problem. Since half her classes are outside in portable classrooms located in the parking lot, she’s going to betting a work out.

Monday night she and her friends were snowskating (picture a riding a skateboard with out wheels down a snow covered hill onto a metal rail) down our front yard hill. She jumped off the snowskate, but still had momentum, ran down the driveway, slipped and rammed her foot into a ridge in the road. Her friends helped her into the house, her brother called the clinic and made an appointment and I, quite luckily, I happened to come home from running errands after work, just in time to take her the doctor. The diagnosis: broken second and third metatarsals. I figure it is a bad sign when mom (me!) can actually read the xray.

Sarah was in considerable pain, so the nurse called in a prescription for lortab, and we headed to Smiths to pick it up on the way home. My question for the day is is "Does it really do any good to have a doctor call in a prescription?" Sure enough when we got to Smiths, not only was the convenient outside walk up window not conveniently open, but my prescription also wasn’t ready. It’s aggravating to have to wait when you know your kid is in pain. I stayed home from work on Tuesday, and Sarah, despite the lortab, was still having a lot of pain so I called the doctor’s office to ask for something stronger. Finally, after 2 pm when the doctor finally came in, they called and said she could have some percocet, the catch is I would have drive to the clinic and pick up a written prescription. So off I go, down to the clinic then back to Smiths, where I turn in the script and get told the typical “it will be 10 or 15 minutes”, so I go shop for a few minutes. When I go back to the counter they tell me there is a “problem” with the script and they have to call the clinic, so it will be a while longer. At this point I’m feeling really impatient - I just want to bring my daughter her new medication. So I sort of lean on the counter, looking impatient I’m sure, when suddenly the guy behind the counter tells my I have to “back off”, and that I can’t wait there and makes some comment, which I couldn’t hear, to a coworker. And then it occurs to me: they think I’m a freaking drug addict! So was there really a “problem” with my prescription, or was the “problem” the fact that was filling two painkiller scripts in less that 24 hours? I suspect that fact that I was wearing a baggy old t-shirt, sweat pants, and acting impatient didn’t help either.

So now I wonder, does everyone who goes to the pharmacy with a prescription for painkillers get looked at with suspicion? It must be awful to have a chronic pain problem and have to constantly feel like you must justify your purchase, or that people are looking at you with evil eyes because they think you are “that” kind of person.

.... my daughter figured she had to go up or down 30 flights of a dozen or so steps today...

...and along the lines of broken things... I played with my fusing glass while I was home with Sarah, unfortunately, this is what I found in my kiln Wednesday morning. I guess I rushed a step, oh well, live and learn!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Warm, fuzzy, flannel

Is there anything nicer than fresh new flannel? I'm sitting here wearing the new flannel pajamas I got for my birthday. They are so nice and fuzzy and soft and warm! Even better, they are red, and even better than that they are decorated with snowflakes. I love snowflakes. It is snowing out side right now.

One thing I have observed in all my winters living in Utah is that snowstorms come most frequently on Sunday nights/Monday mornings. It's a Murphy's Law sort of thing, we get the most snow on the day of the week where we least want it. Nobody wants to battle the snow on their first morning back to work after the weekend. It is also the day furthest from the weekend ski days, so the chance there will be powder left at the ski resorts is slim. Sometimes I think it would be fun to get a hold of the weather records for the last 20 years and do a statistical analysis to see if indeed Monday AM storms are most probable. Yeah, Yeah, I know I'm a geek!

Regarding those pesky Christmas lights, I actually found some White C-7 replacement bulbs. At Target. I bought the last 4 packages. They had plenty of colored C-7 bulbs, but no C-9 bulbs. After being lit for 4 nights now, more bulbs have blown, including a bunch of those C-9's. I guess I need to search for them now, as the only replacements I have at home are blue, and I seem to need every color but blue. And of course by now we blew a fuse in one of the strands. Luckily we had a spare, and even better, my son volunteered to replace it! Hopefully by Christmas I'll have all the lights in perfect working order. We do after all, have those neighborhood standards to uphold! Every year I joke that my goal is have one more light than my neighbor across the street. Unfortunately, I think she's outdone me this year, and I have promised myself that I need to stop the madness... no more new lights!

I finally got my slumping molds in the mail, and so I spent time this weekend slumping my fused tiles. I think I like my little sushi-oid dishes better when I grind a little more to square off the corners. It's all one big learning process, one that I've been enjoying!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Frickin', frackin' Christmas lights!

Last night was my night to put up my outdoor Christmas lights. I do love Christmas lights. I am not an “early” Christmas person. First I decorate the outside of my house, then the inside, and then, just a few days before Christmas, we set up our tree. I have a self-imposed deadline for my outside lights. My birthday is on the 8th, so my birthday present to myself is having my lights hung for my birthday. So last night was my light hanging night.

Last year my husband took down the Christmas lights. So instead of finding them in carefully bundled in the usual box, I found a mass of lights in a plastic trash bag. Eight tangled sets of lights. Can you say macrame? What a mess and a a test of my patience. The good thing is that the lights over-wintered well. There were relatively few broken or burned out bulbs and even better, I did not have to change one fuse. (Thank you baby Jesus, Amen!) The bad thing was that a number of the burned out bulbs where white, C-7 bulbs, which I have no replacements for. I am picky; I like my strands to display their colors in proper order. No willy–nilly bulb placement here. As it turns out, this is not the year to buy white C-7 bulbs. I ran to Smiths by my house, no white bulbs, so I went took my local shopping "loop", which puts me, at the furthest point from home, at the shopping area about 4 miles away. I stopped at Smiths, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Big Lots, Family Dollar, Home Depot, Shopko and K-Mart; nary a white bulb could be found, or for that matter, hardly any C-7 replacement bulbs at all. Perhaps if I expand my “loop” to Target or Walmart I’ll be able to find some.

This gets me to my peeve about Christmas and marketing. Every year the selection at the stores is different, making it difficult to find replacements to match my existing decorating scheme. Like I presume, most people’s, my decorating has been an evolutionary process. Perhaps because Christmas is a nostalgic time, I wanted multicolored C-9 strands, like my parents used when I was kid, to decorate my home. The year we bought our house C-7 bulbs (the smaller size) where in vogue and available, so that is what we bought to line our porch and wind around our Alberta spruce. A few year later I wanted more lights, so I could outline the garage and windows, but low and behold the stores only had C-9 lights, so now my house is decorated with a mix of sizes. Later we needed lights for the upstairs and they were different again, instead of being five color strands; red, orange, blue, green and white, they were four color strands; red, orange, blue and green. Every year the stores seem to offer up something different, sometimes it’s the bulb size that changes, some years the stores have mostly opaque bulbs, sometimes transparent ones, sometimes the stores stock multicolored sets, other years they have mostly single color sets. My favorite was the year that the store nearest my house had boxes and boxes of purple transparent C-7 light strands. Now how often do you see a house all decked out in Christmas purple???

The dearth of replacement bulbs found in the stores this year is more shocking than ever. Those of us that don’t like living in the “disposable world” want to be able to use our lights year after year. We want to be able to find replacement bulbs and fuses (yikes, don’t get me going on fuses!). We don’t want to feel like we’re being forced by the “marketing powers” to buy new decorations every year. I feel bad enough about the energy I use to power the lights, I don’t want to create landfill issues too! And I really don’t want to think about the energy I’ll be wasting driving all over town looking for those elusive white bulbs!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What a difference a year makes!

I my 3 + years of bead making one bead style I haven’t really spent much time working on is sculptural beads. I don’t know why I haven’t been drawn to work on sculptural pieces, but I haven’t, so I can count my sculptural attempts on my digits. To date I have made one extremely poor goddess for a web challenge back when I was working on my hot head torch (she’s in a bowl somewhere), the simple bird that graces my Canary Beads page, another similar bird for a “birdie” friend, and four simple fish that where gifted to kids. Maybe another thing or two I’ve long since forgotten. Around this time last Christmas I tried to make some snowmen. I like snow, so I like snowmen, so they were one sculptural type bead that I was actually interested in making. I failed dismally - either I over melted the glass and made blobs, or they cracked on the mandrel or in the kiln. I only tried a few, then got very frustrated and quit.
Fast forward to this year. The first snowfall gave me the itch to try snowmen again. And low and behold, I can actually do them now. What a difference a year makes. They aren’t all perfect, and I did loose a couple (not pictured!) to cracking, but I can actually make snowman now! It’s funny how these small things that makes me happy!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ski Season is here!

Yesterday I headed up to the slopes for the first time this season. I’m itching to try my new skis, but with only a 50 inch snow base I didn’t dare to bring them. I’m a creature of habit, I enjoy the old and familiar. I like my old, red, Pre M5a’s (hand made in Park City, Utah... or so they say); they had actually become a conversation piece when I rode the lift with strangers because they were so out of style. I’m also a bit frugal, and I hate to waste (visions of filled landfills depress me!), so I keep my gear forever. But last year the paint started coming off my skis in huge chunks which I took as a sign that I needed to replace my 10 year old “straight” skis for the modern, short, parabolic ones. Hopefully they’ll revolutionize (ha, ha) my skiing. Hopefully we will have a few storms soon so I can give them a try. Funny thing about those ski resorts, they can report a 50 inch base yet still have plenty of rocks on the runs. I’m sure they hide that snow measurement stake out in a drift in the middle of the woods. I only hit a couple of rocks, all in places I should have known to avoid, but I was following Matt, and I forget that I actually turn with my skis on the ground in places where he, well, flys. He jumps over everything. Everything he does on skis looks effortless, and he just plain looks cool. It sure makes me wish I’d learned to ski when I was 4!.

It was a lovely, blue skied and clear, but cold ski day. I did have one new piece of gear to try out- new goggles (Thank you TJ Maxx for h,aving $14.99 Bolle ski goggles this year!). It’s funny how in tune, and attached you get to your ski gear. It was nice to have pristine, non-scratched goggles for a change, but they are definitely a different shade of amber than my previous pair. I spent the day feeling like I was skiing in perpetual sunset. It was sort of an interesting, surreal feeling. I imagine I’ll get used it.

The extreme (for Utah) cold snap we have been having made for a slightly harrowing trip down the canyon. Ever have one of those days when you’re not sure what the road conditions are? Can you say "black ice”? The road was white from salt, yet had this slight sheen that made me suspect it could be slick, even thought we hadn’t had fresh snow in days. I kept commenting to Bob and Matt that I thought the road was slicker than it looked, but I just wasn’t sure. Matt, the 17 year old driver thought it looked fine - thank goodness he rides the bus to ski. I felt compelled to granny drive, and was sure I was ticking off the car behind me. That was until I we reached the first tight curve, where there was an SUV, minus its whole back end, slammed into the canyon wall. At the next curve, a van was down the embankment laying on its side in a parking lot. By now I was really granny driving, which was good thing because as we approached the next curve, one of those huge monster trucks came round the corner, and started skidding and then slid sideways straight toward us. Luckily I was able to pull off the road and stop, and even luckier the other driver regained control of his truck. I don’t ever recall such a slick day when there was no fresh snow. I guess that sometimes being a neurotic, old fart, granny driver really pays off. I’m sure hoping yesterday's drive was a good lesson for my son. It is sometimes scary having an (over?) confident teenage driver in the house.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


I'm sad to report that the jewel encrusted cockroach has died. I'm not sure when, exacty, as my daughter didn't know, but she seems to think that some sort of leg infection did it in. Apparently the Black Chandelier people are going to replace it for free. (But can you really replace a beloved pet?)No word yet on funeral services.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fused Glass

Earlier this week I went to the Art Glass Guild of Utah’s annual show at Red Butte Gardens. The guild is mostly about fused glass or as they say, kiln formed glass, but it appears that they have begun to embrace lampworkers as well, as a few members do lampworking in addition to fusing, and at least one appears to primarily be a lampworker. One requirement of making glass beads is that they have to be annealed, so a kiln is a necessary piece of equipment for this hobby. The kiln is also a great gateway drug to a new discipline of glass art – fusing. So now I dabble in fusing too. I say dabble as I’m certainly still a beginner, and like all good hobbies there is definitely a learning curve, and a zillion different techniques to try. I’m still at the stage where I’m doing simple things, like the tile in the picture, which I am planning to slump into a sushi style mold.

After playing around with fusing this year I have a greatly heightened appreciation for what goes into the amazing work I saw at the show. This piece was one of my favorites. Not a favorite because I'm into the tribal shield theme, but because I was so awestruck by the workmanship. I’d love to know home many hours went in to it, cutting glass, stacking it and fusing to create pattern bars, assembling all the pattern bars and glass and frits to do the flat fusing, cold working to perfect the final shape, then successfully slumping the glass over what must be a homemade mold. Fusing a magnificent piece is a ton of work, and even my simple little projects are time consuming… cutting , cleaning, and gluing the glass pieces together. Fusing them in the kiln. Grinding the edges to make them all even, carefully cleaning those edges so they don’t look scummy (I hope) then fusing again to fire polish the edges. Slumping the tile into the mold will be yet another fusing step in the kiln.

There is no instant gratification with fusing. I run my kiln at night. Depending on what time I start, the kiln may or may not be cool enough for my to peek at the results in morning. And my kiln is small, I wonder how long a big kiln takes to cool off?!! Somedays it is so hard to keep from peeking before going to work. Then sitting at work all day wondering if I’ll be pleasantly surprised when I do get to open the kiln. Will there be bubbles, will the shape and colors be what I want? Playing with fusing has definitely been a lesson in patience

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Windshield Wipers

Well, this week we are finally getting a little snow here in the valley. As usual, the news spent a few days sensationalizing yesterday's approaching storm, which was slated to show up at the evening rush hour. The storm didn't prove to be much; just an inch or so of snow (a couple of feet in the mountains), and other than an icy morning commute it caused little problem. All the impending doom did remind me of one of those important things on my "I need to get around to it" list... my lousy windshield wipers. So who is actually good about replacing their wipers as recommended?.... twice a year.. ha! Living in in Utah we don't get much rain, so it is easy to ignore how bad your wipers are. That is, until the first winter storm.

A few years ago my brother Jeff came out to ski, and was so appalled by windshield wipers he made me stop at the first store we could find, buy new ones, and he replaced them for me in the store parking lot. The following Christmas he sent new wipers as a joke. I thought they were a great gift, and now when he asks what I want for Christmas I tell him wiper blades, because with out his gentle reminder I am bound to neglect my wiper maintenance duties.

So last night, in the middle of the "big" storm, I realized that I really needed to do something about my more than 2 year old windshield wipers. Darn my brother, he didn't send me wipers last Christmas so I had to go the store for refills. Of course when I got out to the car I realized refills wouldn't work, that I need to replace the whole shebang. So back in the store I went to exchange them for complete replacement blades. Doesn't it seem wasteful to have to throw the whole assembly away when you really just need a new rubber blade?

In the back of my mind I had this small memory that replacing the wipers was a pain in the rear. Not a faulty memory at all. I decided, even though it was snowing a little, to change them in the parking lot, because the lighting was better then in my driveway, and more replacements were in the store if needed. I started with the passenger side, figuring if I screwed up I could still see out the driver side. I guess you're supposed to be a rocket scientist to change those puppies out. It took forever to figure out how to get the old one off, a little less time to get the new one on. The replacement was aided by that "wonderfully informative" 1 inch by 1 inch instructional picture (see picture above!). Thinking I had it all figured out I went around to tackle the driver side. The problem being the drivers side wiper faces the middle of the car, and my car (a Toyota highlander) is tall, and I am, well, short. So I'm stretching over the car, trying to disassemble and reassemble the wiper from the opposite orientation, thinking it should be easy because I should have learned something from the passenger side. Well It took me twice as long to replace that wiper. I guess I'm not a rocket scientist. My fingers were frozen but at least I can finally see out my windows. My brother will be proud. And if I get new wiper blades for Christmas, maybe next time will be sooner than two years from now.

Monday, November 27, 2006

My holiday weekend...

One would think that with a whole four day weekend off from work I would have found a moment to write something here, but somehow it didn't happen. Our holiday weekend began with a nice surprise. Our kids Korean dad was here in town on business and stopped by to pay us a visit. Korean dad?, you ask. My kids first babysitter was Korean woman who's husband was pursuing a PhD in engineering at the University. She watched my kids until my daughter was year or so old at which time they moved back to Korea. Thus they are my kids Uma and Apa (mom and dad), and their son is my kid's Korean brother. We have not seen them since we traveled to Korea to visit them back in '94 so it was nice to have even a short visit. I only wish Uma could have come too. She sent gifts though, a Korean music CD for my son, a beautiful little purse that she made herself for my daughter, and gim (seaweed) snacks for all of us. She only had one child, a son, and always really wanted a girl, and she always treated Sarah like a daughter. My kids were lucky to have such a wonderful caregiver, and we all really enjoyed learning about Korean culture. I still find it hard to believe that my picky eater kids will eat seaweed snacks (roasted, salted seaweed squares)

Other then that it was an uneventful weekend. We had a small family feast on Thanksgiving. The weather was nice so we walked the dog to the gully for a swim, and stopped at a friends for coffee. I managed to get a couple of jogs in. (I am determined to someday be in good shape again) I made a few beads, played with fusing glass in my kiln, but mostly I spent hours and hour cleaning beads.

Someone tell why I don't clean my beads as soon as they come out of the kiln. I had a nearly 6 month backlog of beads to clean. I haven't been caught up on bead cleaning since May, when I cleaned them all to have some to take to the Michigan cabin retreat. So after many hours, 2 broken diamond bits, and couple of dremeled divots in my left index finger I have lots of clean beads. Now I'm going to swear (again) that I will clean my beads as I make them, rather than letting them pile up. ...Just like I've sworn (about 100 times now!) that I will clean up my workspace after every torch session.... Hopefully this time I will really keep my promise to myself by finishing my bead chores before I go on and have more bead fun!

Next I'll have to figure out what to do with them all. I think Oreo has claimed them as his own.

The family with Jong Bae, the kids Korean father.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Dog Aromatherapy

Someone on LE posted this comic the other day. I just love it, it totally sums up my dogs view on life. It has been kind of obvious from the beginning that Daisy is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. She was a year old when we picked her up at the humane society, and was pretty well behaved, except for having this thing for pillows. After numerous episodes of coming home from work and finding polyester pillow fluff spread through out the house we decided that she could no longer roam freely. We decided to keep her in the kitchen so we propped a 2 foot tall piece of cardboard in front of the doorway with kitchen chair. We'll, that piece of cardboard kept for confined for at least six months.

Like I said, she's not the brightest pooch, but she is a bit of an idiot/savant. Where she excels is in directions. She knows all her favorite places and exactly how to get them. The gully where we take her swimming, the park, her friend Ayla, the yellow lab's house,(a mile and a half down the hill), and her favorite store are all on her favorites list. The weather was nice yesterday so I decided to take Daisy for a run. As I often do on runs, I let her pick the course. Her choice was to run to Petsmart (a few blocks from my home), where she likes to go and browse. With her nose of course. She loves to go up the dog treat isle carefully sniffing at each and every different type of treat. She's such a shopper dog. I think she would really like a good doggie aromatherapy isle!

Friday, November 17, 2006

It's still alive....

....the bejeweled hissing cockroach that is. I had the honor of transporting it downtown, where Sarah and three friends were going to some sort of fashion show tonight. Sarah snapped these pictures of her friends playing with the "pet" in the back of my car. The girl with the purple shirt is buggies proud momma.

Can you tell that this girl is NOT the bejeweled bugs owner??

Aren't teenagers just adorable??!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I've posted a picture of my MySpace picture. Well, it's not really a MySpace picture since I don't really mave a MySpace page. But it could be. On Sunday the family went to brunch at this very fancy restaurant, LaCaille. (we had a gift certificate that was soon to expire) My daughter was quite impressed with the very fancy bathroom when she suddenly had a *lightbulb* moment. "We need to take a MySpace picture in here!". "Huh?" I say. "In a bathroom?" So she gave me instructions - tilt your head like this, pout your lips like this, put your hands like this. Apparently lots of people take their my space pictures themselves in front of mirrors at odd angles or in in funky poses. In case it's not obvious the cute, skinny one in front is my daughter. (She shields my girth well, perhaps that's why I like this blurry, off color picture!)

I have hardly ever seen my kids MySpace pages. They are set to "private" and the kids have made it clear that they are off limits to mom. They have also made it abundantly clear that I'm not supposed to be looking at their friends pages either, even if they aren't "private". I keep telling them that if it's out on the internet it's out there for anyone to view, incuding nosey mom's. We fight about this sometimes. The kids tell me I don't get it, but I think they are the ones who don't really get it!

Regarding my fancy brunch, LaCaille is a lovely, beautiful place (with over-priced, decent, but not especially stellar, food) the second course is this wonderful cream puff swan- I love food art!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

a little blog tag with JC....

Am I a needy lampworking skills victim? Now that's a weird question isn't it? I am asking myself that question in response to the blog of one of my lampworking buddies, JC Herrell. To paraphrase her blog, she seemed disappointed in people who, on the lampworking forums, are what she describes as "skill victims"; which I interpret to mean us whiny folks who complain about our skill sets and talents and allow ourselves to be limited by our attitudes.

So I have to wonder if I'm am perhaps one of the people that is aggravating her. I have to admit that I, just the other day, commented on a forum that I was very jealous of another artists stringer control. I admit to making frequent comments of that ilk. I'm a hobbyist lampworker. I've been doing this for 3 years, as time permits, which for is maybe an evening a week and some more time over the weekend. I have yet to take a real class. I definitely have areas, many areas, where my skills need work.

But does this make me a victim? I don't feel like one. Take stringer control. (You could insert a number of techniques here! LOL) I have often joked about my lack of stringer control, commenting to others about my personal hypocrisy - complaining I don't have stringer control, but knowing I really haven't spent much time working toward acquiring it.

I have enough stringer control to make foliage on my florals, which I guess so far, has been enough for me. But of course better stringer control would be a great thing, and I am envious of those who already have it. It would be wonderful if the great glass gods would wave their magic wands and make me instantaneously talented. Wouldn't it be nice if it worked that way? I'm sure at some point I will suddenly be motivated to master the art of stringer control but for now I'm actually content in knowing that I have been working at my own pace, aquiring new skills as they suit me and my current style of bead making.

I may see the places where my talent and skill are lacking, but I don't feel victimized at all. I think trying to honestly appraise my skills and talents will help motivate me to work on the things I need and want to, and perhaps even help me choose the trajectory of my creativity.

I hope J.C. doesn't mind me commenting on her blog....and I hope I haven't been the one to irk her too much! She's a great bead maker, a great person.... and she brings up interesting points in her blog! Definitely points worth pondering!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day!

So did you do it? Vote that is. I did and got my "I Voted" sticker and everything. Note the fingerprint on the sticker; I guess that's the new symbol for touch screen voting. The new electronic voting machines seemed pretty straight forward to use, our precinct seemed to have plenty of them, and I don't think it took me any longer to vote then it did in previous elections. But of course that was before 7:30 AM, maybe the lines and wait times will be horrendous later in the day. Now the vote counting issue...I guess we'll see how that goes this evening.

Our only voting hiccup was knowing where to vote. During the "big" presidential elections my precinct votes at "The Sons of Utah Pioneers" building which is conveniently located two streets over from mine. For the "lesser" elections the vote takes place at the neighborhood elementary school. Usually we go the "Pioneers" as we call it, realize it's the wrong place then head over to the school. I had thought that with a both a senatorial and congressional race we might get to vote at the Pioneers this year but I wasn't sure. My husband, who always goes to vote right at 7:00am, called home and asked me where to vote. The school district closed our neighborhood elementary this year, so where DO we vote? Oops, we'd never thought about that. So he came home, looked it up on the internet and found that we now vote down at the synagogue a mile and a half away. Problem solved, voting accomplished. I can proudly wear my sticker.

This really got me thinking about the electoral process. How do they decide where people vote? Who are those people who are running the election process? I'm under the impression the polling places are staffed by volunteers. ( Is this true?) I wonder where they find them. Where I vote the scribe who writes all the names in the book is always an elderly woman with beautiful handwriting. Maybe they look for people old enough to have had a penmanship course for this job! I imagine that it is a big job to organize all the voting equipment, people, places and paperwork. I think our county clerk oversees the effort, I guess her job is way bigger than I could imagine.

Since voting is a governmental thing. I would *think* that voting would take place in a public building, like a school. Clearly this doesn't always happen, today I voted at a church, sometimes I vote at a building owned by a private organization, heck, back when I was a kid in Ohio my parents voted in the basement at a neighbors home. My 20 some year old voter registration card says to vote at the Sons of Utah Pioneers building, but in reality we vote in other locations more often. It also says to check the newspaper or call a phone number (Does this 20 year old number still work?) for updated information. Checking the newspaper requires knowing your precinct number. Who remembers that? How many people (besides me!) actually keep their voter registration card handy? Of course now we have the internet, which makes it easy. Enter your address and it tells you where to vote. But what about those (rare, not so rare?) folks with out internet access or computer savvy?

My boss went to vote this morning, gave them his name, and found he wasn't on the list. It turns out he had been "redistricted" (or as he said, gerrymandered in to a new district!) and he hadn't know about it. So he has to vote someplace else, someplace he didn't have time to go this morning, so he will have to vote later. Several (most) other people I work with hadn't voted yet and didn't know where they were supposed to vote. These are intelligent folk ( I work at a university), so I know they will figure it out and go do their civic duty. But it makes me I wonder how often people are confused about how to actually go vote.

I wonder how often people don't bother to vote, just because they are confused or it's too much trouble to figure out the system?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Halloween at my house...
Graveyard in the front yard, jack-o-lanterns on the steps. Teenage kids, so no one to take trick or treating (***sad sigh!***). We did have a dozen a dozen of my daughters friends show up for the traditional pre trick or treat dinner, which at our house means pigs in a blanket and mac and cheese. As quick as as they came they all disapeared, roaming the neighborhood and haunting other friends houses. Three hours later a bunch showed back up at my house for some hot spiced cider. My son was out with his friends so for the most part it was a quiet night.

We did have one interesting guest tonight. Meet my daughter's friend Maddie's new pet- a jewel encrusted hissing cockroach. Complete with a finding that allows you to attach a tether that pins to your clothes so that can wear your bug as a lapel pet. Cockroach Couture! Just what everone needs right?? So if you want to be hip and cool this season they are available for mail order! ...and yeah, it's a good thing my daughter didn't bring one home! Not that I'm that bug phobic, but $60 for a roach? No way! I may be crazy but not that crazy!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

End of October

End of October
The sleepy brown woods
Seem to nod down their heads to the winter

A line from a favorite old ('75) song (Old Tennessee) by a favorite old musician of mine(Dan Fogelberg) and such a wonderful description of this time of year!

Saturday was a great weekend to enjoy a last fall hike. As you can see in the pictures, the woods are indeed nodding their heads to the winter. At least I was smart enough to wear hiking shoes, instead of my usual Tevas as the snow level is getting low in the mountains. Daisy and I hiked up Neffs Canyon until the trail was steep and icy enough that I knew I'd be miserable slip sliding my way back down. Daisy loves the snow so it was a great day for her! Neff's is a small canyon at the top of a nearby neighborhood; it leads to the Mt Olympus Wilderness area. Earlier this year I found out an interesting thing about Neff's Canyon. There is a cave up there, somewhere, that for a long time was thought to be America's deepest cave. It seems funny to me that nobody around here seems to know about Neff's Canyon Cave. There is an interesting story on the web about it's exploration. It's now locked up because it's a very dangerous cave. Maybe that's why no one seems to know of it. I'm curious where exactly the entrance is. I't love to peak in, but so far I've not seen sign of it on my hikes!

On Sunday we took our traditional pumpkin picking pilgimage. We head up north, stop at Jeremiahs in Ogden for breakfast (Voted Best Breakfast in Utah), head to Crystal Hot Springs for a nice soak, then stop at one of the farm stands along Fruit Way . The kids aren't so hip on this tradition any more, probably because it's a long drive, about 60 miles, to the hot springs, and takes most of the day, and they would rather be hanging around with their friends. I'm just glad that they humored me one more time; Matt's a senior this year so it may be the last family fall pumpkin pilgrimage. Breakfast was yummy, the hot springs delightful, and this year, probably because it's two days before Halloween, the pumpkins puny!

My husband Bob, my son Matt, daughter Sarah (in the middle) and her friend Neeka Pickin' Puny Pumpkins!

The pools at Crystal Hot Springs.

Man made pools, but it's a natural hot spring, which in addition to many other minerals has a high lithium content. I've always wondered if soaking there is fun way to self medicate undiagnosed manic depression! Maybe that's why the water feels so good!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I think I'll be a teenager when I grow up.

Ever notice how teenagers don't bother to dress appropriately for the weather? There can be a raging snowstorm going on and all the kids at my daughter bus stop will be standing outside in sweatshirts. I swear the boys wear shorts, and girls wear flip flops, all through the winter.
This morning I overslept. My new alarm clock and I simply aren't getting along. I was in a big hurry so I took the worlds fastest shower and pulled on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. No time to rummage in the sock drawer, so I threw on a pair of sandals. Heck, the kids wear flipflops all the time. After all, it has been cool in the mornings, but warming up nicely in the afternoon. Except today. It was extra cold this morning. Wintery cold. On my way to work it started to rain. The wind started blowing. By the time I walked from my parking place to my building my cold, wet toes were frozen. I guess I picked a bad day to pretend I was a teenager again by wearing inappropriate footwear. I'm sure the teens would have found my footwear really inappropriate, because I was wearing Birkenstock style sandals. I don't think they even begin to qualify as "cute" in my 14 yo daughters eyes. By the time I left work the rain had stopped... and it had started snowing! Cold toes again. So when you see those scantily clad kids outside in the winter and think "God, they must be stupid to dress that way", you're probably correct. I learned my lesson, I don't think I'm going to pretend I'm a teenager anymore. It's midnight and there's an inch of snow on gound now- I'll at least have to wear socks with my sandals tomorrow!

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Rustbelt

Just one more picture from my Ohio trip. I mentioned the rustbelt in my previous post. Here's a "rusty" picture from Hamilton, Ohio. Hamilton is a perfect example of an Ohio rustbelt town; once a prosperous industrial city (mostly papermills), it is now for the most part, just another sad, decaying Ohio town. I have no idea what purpose all the brightly colored barrels had in their "real" life, but I found their contrast with the rusty old contents of this scrapyard interesting. Kind of a "Carnival of Junk", a bright spot amidst the urban decay.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Acton Lake at Ohio's Hueston Woods State Park

I’m not sure why, but after I returned from my trip back “home” to Ohio I spent time contemplating the differences between the two places I call home; Cincinnati, where I used to live and Salt Lake City, where I now reside. Maybe it’s because my kids really noticed the differences: the lack of mountains in Ohio, the greenness of Ohio, that the big deciduous trees whose leaves were changing from green to the lovely shades of autumn are so much different in Ohio. There were also odd things my kids noticed. My son (age 17) thought there were lots of rednecks in Ohio, and my daughter (age 14) found kids in Ohio very unfashionable.

Having lived in the suburbs in both places I can say that suburbs are suburbs, it's when you leave the ‘burbs that things are most different to me. The southwest Ohio countryside is full of rolling hills, farmland and deciduous forest dotted with quaint old towns and idyllic barns and pastures. Around Salt Lake you travel through barren rangeland, covered in sagebrush and grazed by cows, antelope and deer; or you find yourself in breathtaking mountain wilderness areas. A little longer drive lands you in the amazing rocky canyons and deserts of southern Utah. Ohio has the pastoral countryside, Utah the rugged wilderness. Different in many ways, but I honestly love them both.

A weird thing happened to me the other night. I stopped at the library to find a "how to pick a college" book for my son. I’m standing in the stacks looking for the book, and when I turn to leave I spy a book on the shelf directly behind me. The word "Cincinnati" caught my eye. The title of the book was “The Cincinnati Arch: Learning from Nature in the City”. I was surprised to see Cincinnati in the title of a book at the Salt Lake County library and after returning from Cincinnati just a few days before it really piqued my interest. The book is about a wilderness lover who finds himself stuck living in the rust belt city of Cincinnati. It’s not a novel, but more of introspective, philosophical narrative about the author, John Tallmadge’s, experience as he learns to live in the city and contemplate his love for wilderness from an urban perspective. If reading about his experiences in my old hometown wasn’t interesting enough, it turns out he had lived in Utah for a number of years while he was a professor at the University of Utah (where I work) . Sections of the book describe some of his Utah wilderness experiences. Being a nature and wilderness lover myself, and having experienced many of the places he describes, I’ve really enjoyed this book.

It also makes me wonder about what I call weird cosmic experiences; those odd times when the stars and the moon seem to align in a meaningful away. I hadn’t been to the library in months. What is the probability that I would stop at the library, and just happen upon a book that chronicles experiences in two places I call home, at a time when I was pondering my life experiences in both those places? Crazy how life works sometimes!!

The photo of the Great Egret was also taken at Acton Lake. A little blurry perhaps, but not to bad for a quick snapshot with my tiny pocket camera!

Monday, October 16, 2006

More from my trip...

More from my Ohio trip. I love weird road art! As we drove through the historic Village of Glendale we came a cross this giant squirrel, then another, and another. I love stumbling upon art in odd places, so I have to admit that I was a tad disappointed that this was another one of those city wide art projects and not just the work of some artsy person who wanted a giant squirrel in their yard. I decided I was more impressed when I read that squirrels have a little bit of history in Glendale. Besides the standard gray squirrels they have black squirrels, all descendents of a couple of imported breeding pairs imported in the ‘40s. I never saw the black ones but I saw many of the big decorated ones. I thought they seemed kind of comical in their “old fashioned” setting.

Glendale is tiny “town “ in the northern Cincinnati ‘burbs that’s actually a national historic landmark. I like driving through it because it’s a very quaint old town with lots of old homes and interesting architecture. I really like the “oldness” that can be found back in Ohio, Utah is such a young state, with a young population; it is very different from the Cincinnati area.

The “youth” of the population in my home state was recently pointed out to me. A couple of weeks ago my beadmaker friend Rosemarie Hanus was in Salt Lake on business. One of the first things she said to me when we met was “Where are the old people?” It seemed like an odd question, but after a week in Ohio I really saw what she meant. I work at a university and have teenagers, so I have a lot of young people in my life. But when you’re out and about you run in to many young families with a couple (or ton) of kids, or young “recreationalists” out biking or running. When we attend the local concert and festivals, at age 45 we definitely feel like we’re the old folks. But when I spent time at the Tall Stacks Festival in Cincinnati I didn’t feel like an old fart at all; there were tons of (*gulp*) middle aged couples, just like my husband and I, strolling about. The little cafe in my brother’s small town was full of grandfatherly looking farmers. There were plenty of “old people” everyplace we went. Rosemarie was right, it is different where I live.

More squirrels... when we were in Columbus we saw this cool albino squirrel!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Weird coincidences...

I went down to departmental coffee hour today, and chatted for a minute with a couple of the women in the department. I mentioned that I had been on vacation and the asked where. I said Ohio and they asked where again. I said I was from Cincinnati and then they BOTH chimed in, at the same time "me too"! They had both lived not to far from where I lived growing up. I never knew I had two fellow Ohio refugees right in my midst.

Back in GC!

I just returned from a trip back to GC, or “Gods Country” as we call Ohio, where I spent the week visiting family. As much as I love living out west (I’ve lived in Utah for more than 20 years now) there are things I really miss about SW Ohio. Like the countryside, the farms, the deciduous trees, the “oldness” of things if that makes sense. Utah is a very “new”state; there just isn’t as much old stuff where I live, so I really enjoy the old architecture, and old historic towns of Ohio.

It was actually a glorious week, beautiful fall weather, the kind of days that make me wish I still lived there. OK, not really, as I know for every beautiful, blue skied, fall week there are many weeks of ridiculously hot and humid summer days, and cold and dreary, snow-less winter ones.

In addition to fall being the prettiest time to visit Ohio, we picked this weekend because it was the weekend of the Tall Stacks Festival in Cincinnati, which gave us something interesting to do while visiting the family. Tall Stacks is a big festival celebrating Cincinnati’s heritage as a river town. Riverboats from around the country line up along the shores of the Ohio, and you can take cruises out on the river. We took a lovely little cruise, it was nice to see the city from the river, and neat to see all the river boats.

The Public Landing
See the tiny people on the top of purple bridge?... for $39.95 you can don a silly purple suit and "climb" the
Purple People Bridge... seems kind of like a tourist trap to me! I'll stick with the free stroll across the bottom!

That's my brother in law, AKA Uncle Gary, in the hat!
The Cincinnati skyline from the river- this is a bit weird too me, since it has changed so much since I lived there... the big black building is "new" as is the ball field. But still a nice skyline over the water.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


My burning question for the day is: Who came up with silly idea that beads should have names?!
I’ve been trying to put together a submission for the Bead Review 2006, and one of things they ask for is the name of your bead. I pretty much never name my beads. Once in a while, and by once in a while I mean maybe once or perhaps twice a year, a bead decides it wants a name, and lets me know what to call it. I really struggle with this name business. So yesterday I brought some bead pictures to work and asked some of my friends for name suggestions. For the most part they stared blankly at my computer, probably wondering why in the world anyone would want to name beads, and probably thinking I’d become an eccentric old lady who kept beads for pets or something. All except for my friend Carol, who in a matter of seconds, spouted off perfect names for nearly all my beads. How the heck did she do that? I created those beady babies and had no idea what to call them. I think I may make Carol my official bead namer. It sure is nice to get a little help from your friends!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Isn't fall wonderfull?

It was a glorious fall day today so my dog Daisy and I headed up Millcreek Canyon for a hike. Here are some shots from the Elbow Fork trail that heads towards Lambs Canyon. It was one of those days where it was hard to decide when to turn around... when the water bottle was near gone, the camera battery dead or the dog looked thirsty or tired. To be honest, Daisy loves to hike with me, but doesn't understand why we always hike up and up, when all the good action is at the bottom where she can frolic in the creek. We eventually found ourselfs atop a rocky knob with great views across Millcreek Canyon to the south and of Mt. Aire to the northwest. The trail headed down from there so it seemed like the "end" so we turned around and headed back. I'm guessing the high point was a mile and half or so up the trail. I do mean up! A Millcreek hike is always great exercise as it's up, up, up, then down, down down. A little work but wonderful scenery every step. The aspens and scub oaks were gorgeous today!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

cheap sex...

Today I had to run an errand to the university bookstore to buy notebooks for my lab. As usual, they have a bargain book table set up so I stopped and browsed for a minute. In one bin there were several copies of the book "Your Long Erotic Weekend Four Days of Passion for a Lifetime of Magnificent Sex ". On sale for a whopping $4.88. So what do you think? Cheap sex at the university bookstore!! I’m not sure why I find that so funny, but I do. Perhaps because Utah is such a conservative place? I think I’d feel silly if I were a student and ran into one of my professors while buying a sex book. Hmmm… does this make me too conservative??? I hope not!

I actually passed on that book, and bought a David and Mark Muench photography book about Colorado instead. (For $5.88... did I say bargain?) I know, wrong state, but I do have ties to Colorado, and the pictures in the book are just amazing. There is wonderful picture of the wild flowers at Rabbit Ears Pass. Years ago I took wild flower shots at Rabbit Ears Pass, I wish mine were half as good! I’ve always enjoyed photography, and my new picture book inspires me to work on mine a little more.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Why can't I make it work....

Are there simple things that just don't work for you?
There are seemingly simple things that I just can't get the hang of.
Like rubino glass.

For some reason I can't work with rubino with getting little black reduction specs in my glass. At first I thought it was because I worked on a hot head. Then I got a minor burner and oxygen concentrator. I was sure that using a torch with real oxygen would solve that problem. Ha! I was wrong. Then I was fortunate enough to aquire a second concentrator. Now, surely, that would solve all my problems. Ha, Ha! Wrong again. What is it about me and rubino?? Only it's not just rubino. I have the same problem with many of the furnace glass frits.

I make a bead, and apply stringer, dots of rubino or chunks of furnace glass frit. I twirl the beads in the flame and *poof* the glass gets that bright/gray spot, which I know is reduction. Quickly, I move the mandrel away from the torch head and try hard to oxygenate the bead and reverse the reduction. I see that bright spot change, but often not enough; I get a little black spec that just won't go away. It makes me crazy. I turn the gas down before I start. I try to keep the bead away from the torch head, but how far is far enough? Is 3 inches away enough, but 2 3/4 inches too close?? I'll swear that raised dots give me the worst time. If I can get them melted in before they reduce, I don't seem to have (much of!) a reduction problem. It's as thought that 1/8th or 1/6 inch the the top of the dot is closer to the flame must matter. Do millimeters matter when you work with rubino? They must because everything will seem to be going OK, and the second I change my hand position ever so slightly *poof* there's a black dot and it never goes away.

Other people can make beautiful rubino pink beads. Or use furnace glass frits. Do they work with a tiny, tiny flame? Or are they all using tanked oxygen? Or a different kind of torch? Or just better at holding the mandrel far out from the torch face? What is the secret?

(Can you tell what I worked on (unsuccessfuly!) this weekend?)

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I really do make beads!
I have been really into playing with metal and reactive glass lately.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Limits and creativity

Normally when I head up to the student union it’s just to dash in and use the ATM or grab some sushi to take back to the lab for lunch. Yesterday’s mission was to procure "Flogging Molly" tickets for my daughter, so I had opportunity to wander elsewhere for a change. Up on the second floor in the student lounge area they had a display from the architecture department. Apparently the U is considering changing their information kiosks; you know, the places on campus that get plastered with posters and notices of everything going about on campus. The architecture department had a student competition to design new kiosks and the results were on display. Each of the 20 finalists had a poster with a digital rendering of the student architect’s vision, along with a 3-D model of the project. It was fun to see how everyone’s visions of the project were so very different. The models ran the gamut from modern to traditional, organic to industrial, simplistic to artsy.

I imagine the kiosk project was fun because the possibilities seem so limitless. At the same time I wonder if the lack of constraints actually made the project harder because there are so many possibilities. I "dabbled" in architecture when I designed my second story addition when we did our big home remodel. (I hired a designer to draw up the real blue prints and make sure the addition was structurally sound.) That project was of course, constrained by things like the lay out of my existing home and yard, so my possibilities were somewhat limited. I think the limitations helped give me direction. I’ve often wondered if I had started my home completely from scratch what my vision would have been.

So do artistic types suffer from having too many choices? Or is this the thing that really sets apart the real artist from the rest of us? Are artists better equipped to sort out all the possibilities and intuitively know what to create, while the rest of us need some type of limitation to set our artistic vision in motion? The one thing I love about making beads is the seemingly limitless possibilities… so many colors, shapes, styles, techniques to work with. But sometimes I stand before my torch clueless and uninspired, totally overwhelmed by all the colors and supplies set before me. I seem to need some sort of limiting factor to set my creativity in motion. Perhaps I want to make a bead to match a new outfit. I’ll pick the colors and style to match the outfit, then create that bead. The next thing you know I’m inspired to create new and different things, things I wouldn’t have thought of or tried had I not limited my creativity to making that bead to match that outfit. I wonder if other people find creativity through limitation?

Monday, September 18, 2006

A day at the Fair

Yesterday I went to the fair. The Utah State Fair. For some odd reason I really like the state fair. I like to look at the livestock, the vegetables, the kitsch-y booths, the vendors selling miracle cures or miracle kitchen tools. Need your hand cast in wax? The State Fair is the place to be. Want to detoxify your body by soaking your feet in "high tech" water bath that pulls brown goo out of your feet? Or to buy a nifty new kitchen gadget that allows you to make the perfect salsa with ease? Yup. The state fair is your baby.

My kids are teenagers. My 17 year old son opted not to go with us this (how he loved the fair when he was little, it’s sometimes sad when they grow up), and my daughter wanted to bring a friend. The girls just wanted to ride the rides so after shelling out $18 each for ride wristbands my husband and I were to see everything else the fair had to offer.

We look at the livestock, what’s left at least, as it’s the last day of the fair so much of the livestock had to see. Tiny ones, fuzzy ones, straight eared, lop-eared. They are so cute. Then there are the monster bunnies. I think the monsters are Holland Lops, and they positively huge! Much bigger than my cat, and bigger than many small dogs. Every year I am so tempted to bring home a bunny!

Then we head to the agriculture building, where the veggies and flowers are now looking a bit past their prime. But the 100 lb watermelon is still big (but down a half a pound from its debut at an earlier county fair) and the giant pumpkins are massive; the largest was 718 lbs. This year the giant butter cow was accompanied by a butter girl and a couple of butter cats. Yum? There was a great big blue ribbon on a piece in the container gardening section; a succulent garden planted in a child’s red wagon, complete with a Barbie doll wielding miniature garden tools. Can you say kitsch?

I also really love the Home Arts building, with the baked goods and all the textile arts. Utah has many really excellent quilters, and I love admiring their a their work at the fair. From there we visit the Fine Arts building. I guess in Utah fine art is defined as painting and sculpture. My favorite part of fine arts is the children’s exhibit. Every year I am totally amazed by the talent of some very young children.

In contrast to the fine arts, is the Creative Arts exhibit. I guess Creative Arts is the catch all for everything don’t the know how to classify. Pottery, woodworking, ceramics, mosaics, stained glass (which many years ago was in Fine Arts, I guess it got demoted), jewelry, lego sculpture. Yup, I said lego sculpture. In among the gems, as there are always some very fine woodworking projects and pottery pieces etc., there are seemingly bizarre entries, like lego sculptures. This year there was a huge diorama of paper models of Star Wars space ships, all hung by threads in their own little cardboard box universe, or should I say universes, as the box was split in half so there were actually 2 alternate universes. The other bizarre thing about the creative arts exhibit is organization (or lack their of) of the displays, for instance stained glass was displayed together, but fused glass was spread throughout the building. Really cool creative artwork, sitting next to things that look like kindergarten projects. My husband was actually astute enough to notice the signs with the keys to the exhibitors. Their nametags were category coded by color: professional, amateur, kids, seniors, disabled. It was kind of a relief to learn that those school kid like displays were indeed made by kids, and that the poorly painted ceramic santa was painted by a disabled person.

One genre of creative art that I laugh about every year is the plastic canvas needlepoint. I dislike plastic canvas needlepoint, (I dislike plastic!) and there are always numerous plastic canvas coasters and plastic canvas tissue box covers and of course the requisite plastic canvas Barbie house. This year there was a twist on the dollhouse, - it was actually a giant plastic canvas Barbie boat (a yacht perhaps), complete with plastic canvas Barbie furniture. Quite the innovation in creative arts I’d say! At least this year I know, by it’s color coded card, that it was made by a senior citizen., so instead of wondering WHY anyone makes that plastic canvas crap, I have in my head this nice picture of grandmotherly figure making the perfect Barbie accessory for her grandchild. It makes the plastic canvas seem a little nicer!

The last big part of our trip to the fair is ride down the "Giant Yellow Slide" which everyone knows, because they make an announcement every five minutes is a "Utah Family Tradition". The announcements must be great marketing as the Giant Yellow Slide has become my family’s tradition!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Lets talk about the weather !!!!

What strange weather we have been having. It was 90 degrees earlier this week, and today we awoke to, you guessed it, SNOW. Not actually at my house, but up in the mountains. There was rumor being spread by my neighbor, that had I gotten up early enough, I would have seen snow in my yard. But it is Saturday, so I slept in, so I''ll just have to take her word for that.

I decided to walk my dog down to the park to take a snapshot of snow covered Mt. Olympus. I actually had to put socks on with my Teva's, and wear a jacket. Up until this last week I haven't worn anything but shorts, skirts and tank tops since May. Thursday I put on a t-shirt for the first time, with my shorts of course. As cold as it was today (51 degrees), I couldn't bear the thought of actually putting on pants so I walked barelegged in my shorts. I will definately need a couple of weeks before I can bring myself to pull on a pair of jeans. As much as I like the cold weather, the transition from skimpy summer wardrobe to real clothes is always a shocker.

I don't ever remember snow or a cold snap quite this early in the season, geez, it's not even fall yet! I wonder if this is a sign of the winter to come.
I think I'll start shopping for new skis tomorrow.