Archive for the ‘gratitude’ Category

…in a word? Bloody brilliant! Ok, that was two words, but really I haven’t had such a great time at a show in a really long time. The site at the Sonora Fairgrounds is just so lovely anyway and then they went and filled it up with Faire folks, pipe bands and all the goodies you could ever want. We did really well! The new lines got so much great feedback. I am a happy designer today and feeling more on track than I have in a good long while.

The weekend started out spectacularly when I fell down our stairs at 5:30 in the morning (that’ll larn me to try to walk without coffee) and pulled and strained a bunch of things that are best left unpulled. Like knees. And then I was pretty busy all weekend so I didn’t really walk around but there were a few things in our immediate area that really stood out over the course of the weekend.

First up? Blooming Lotus – a husband and wife duo who teach yoga and make the most stunning wind chimes you might have ever seen. These are works of art and a set of amethyst and copper chimes followed me home. They were promptly given to Captain Sexypants, because I love him and something so beautiful could not possibly exist without me wanting to give them to him, along with the moon. Seeing as how the moon is impossible, windchimes it is! They were technically a birthday gift .


I’ve heard it said that “True Love Waits” but in this case True Love was pushy and started whining until the Cap agreed to unwrap what was in the shopping bag RIGHT NOW, two days early, instead of on his actual birthday.

Sometimes True Love gets like that.


Fantastic, non? Love the fire patina on the copper and all those rough stones. They are making our back deck rather fabulous. I’m a little worried that between those, the zen bells and the Tibetan prayer flags all over our front porch, our neighbors might think we’re pinko hippie liberals. Or something. Heh.


Musical high point of the whole weekend was definitely this Celtic rock band called Stand Easy. I got a huge kick out of them. Their show was a lot of fun! Good times, good times… please allow me to offer up a YouTube that I have randomly found, just for your delectation.


All I have to say about that is, “wow.” Their singer/piper fellow John is really nice and wow can he ever rock the pipes. Throw in a pair of stompy boots, a fetching chapeau, a kilt and er, hello there Mr. Bagpipe Rocker Guy! You make the world just that much better with your bagpipes and your music (not to mention your knees, not that I was looking at them. Well maybe a little.) You just keep doing what you’re doing, ok? It’s working out fine. Carry on.

Seriously though, aren’t we all just sooo grateful for Scottish rock bands?

Mittens the Studio Cat would like to interject that he is not grateful for Scottish rock bands, however I feel that he is operating under some bias seeing as how cats + bagpipes = generally not a winning combination. Also, nobody cares if you think kilts are overrated, Mittens. Go find some glitter or something to knock over, ok? Wait… on second thought… oh never mind.

I think the most exciting part of the weekend was getting the opportunity to wholesale some of my work to a great little store in Ventura, CA. It’s a shop that I’ve been in love with when I saw it during the first Craftcation conference 3 years ago. The whole thing manifested in such a serendipitous way, too. I can’t even begin to express how much gratitude and delight and pure squee I’ve got going on about that.

You know that part in Buffy Season 5 (4?) where Xander gets split into two Xanders and they each think that the other is a demon and Goofy-Xander does the Snoopy Dance to convince Willow that he’s the real Xander? Yeah, that’s totally me right now.


The happy dance part, I mean. Not the being split into two of myself by the powers of darkness part. At any rate, the next time you’re in Ventura, look for Honey&Ollie at Heart’s Delight on Main Street. Because we’re totally there. In their store. Dream come true. Go and look for the Honey&Ollie girl! Yay small local businesses supporting other small businesses!

Thanks, Celtic Faire! I feel totally rejuvenated and like I got my groove back, oh yes I do.

What’s next? OH! I’ll tell you what’s next. We just got accepted to the San Jose Fantasy Faire on April 12 and 13th. See you there?

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I used to read a lot more blogs before Facebook came around and made everything faster, more immediate, more real time. And as I said in my last post, I really miss that slower conversation. Sometimes having to stop and think about what you’re going to say before you say it is a good thing.

It can be difficult because I haven’t got internet at my house – and I’m almost never at the coffeeshop long enough to read All The Things, almost never anywhere long enough where I can disappear into blogland for a good soak. But I think I’m going to be making more of an effort. I miss Google Reader but Feedly has been a reasonably decent replacement so far and it helps to have something that aggregates all the blog feeds into one space.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite blogs – the ones I reach for every time I open Feedly, the ones I open up and take home to peruse at leisure. What works for me in a blog is that there is a good balance between work and the conversation – many of the folks I read have indie businesses like mine. We’re artists, we are (most of us) also selling our art or our work, and that’s good – but what keeps me coming back is what happens when people are just sharing what excites them about their lives AND their art.

I really enjoy Terri Windling’s blog, Myth and Moor. She hits me right where I live, with musings on art, music, fairy tales, myth, just living in general. Her blog is a rich and wonderful thing to delve into.

I read a lot of jewelry blogs. They’re great for inspiration, to learn new skills, for networking and for finding out about new bead designers or resources for nifty supplies.

Love My Art Jewelry is all about the world of art jewelry. They have a great “boot camp” that I’ve found really helpful in terms of widening my own repertoire of skills.

Earrings Everyday – pretty much just what it sounds like. Earring porn.

Art Jewelry Elements – neato things for making art jewelry.

One of my favorite art jewelry events is just about to start, in fact, and it is entirely blog based. The 8th Annual Bead Soup Blog Party is almost here – signups are this weekend, in fact.


Bead swapping and a blog hop? It’s a ton of fun and how I discovered a lot of my favorite art jewelry designers.

I read a lot of art blogs too. Again, for inspiration, to see what people are up to, to find out about new goodies or just get good and excited about color. Daisy Yellow Art is one of my favorites – all about art journaling, and more! I love her take on making art. She’s a fellow mandala maker too, so that definitely is a plus.

Curry Powder.

Dion Dior.

Alisa Burke.

Speaking of colorful blogs, Creative Kismet is another one I really like. All of these really feed something in me. A desire for color, for beauty, for line and balance. They hit the sweet spot between art and conversation.

I like Notes from the Voodoo Cafe. I’m not really into sewing but I like her take on the world a whole bunch.

Blogs are a good way to keep up with friends.

There’s my friend Marilyn’s tea blog, Delights of the Heart.

My friend Kelly has a great blog, The Traveling Sideshow, about her adventures with metal and art beads.

Just a few out of literally several hundred in my reader – but these do seem to be the ones I reach for over and over.

It’s a tricky balance to find. When you’re an artist and you have a little indie biz, everyone tells you that your blog is your biggest marketing tool. But who wants to be marketed to all the time? I’d rather not worry about some “magic blog formula” that will guarantee me more readers and/or sales. I think I’d rather just have a good conversation and talk about what’s going on around Spacious Nuthouse Estates and what’s fun in the studio. Selling gets old. But feeling really excited about something fun that I’m doing in the studio, and sharing that excitement? That never gets old.

So what are some of your favorite blogs? Leave me one or two in comments! And check out one or two of the blogs I linked to – you might be glad ya did!

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We have well and truly leapt into this 2014 thing – all committed now, no going back. One minute you’re eating pie and opening stockings and having a nice staycation, and the next minute, the Universe is yelling, “TIME TO GET IT TOGETHER!” and flapping its hands at you to be all resolved and shiny and better and get going NOW.

Last year I bought myself a bundle of Leonie Dawson’s Life and Biz workbooks, and then I got busy and didn’t bother to do them. This year, I have been carving out some time each day and working my way through them. It has made all the difference for me to have a little bit of a roadmap – and it’s one I am writing for myself! She just walks you through it. Have you checked out Leonie Dawson before? I’m not an affiliate or anything, I just love her work, and I really can’t recommend the Life and Business workbooks enough – especially if you want to manifest some big and exciting things in your life this year! It looks like she’s changed it around to be more of a group/interactive thing this year. I still recommend you check it out!

Talk about manifesting big things, one of the things on my Big Juicy Dreams list was “participate in Second Saturday Art Night here in Sonora”. Another was “get into some great area stores.” Well what do you know, but I was invited to step in as a last-minute featured artist at Second Saturday this last week! A great little local vintage shop, Funky Junk, invited us to set up in their store. It went so well that now I’m working up an exclusive collection just for them, featuring some of the great vintage elements that I’ve collected along the way! The shop is at 8 Washington St., in old downtown Sonora.

Really, visualizing your dreams, setting goals (and making them actionable) and just asking for what you want is really powerful stuff, yo. Thanks, Leonie! Thanks, Funky Junk!

Speaking of living with intention… last year, I treated myself to several sterling charms from Hint Jewelry by Beth Hemmila and made myself a charm necklace. It was a gift to myself, for my 42nd birthday (42 having a little something to do with the meaning of life and all). At 42, I wanted something special to symbolize the meaning of MY life or rather the meaning I was trying to bring to the table going forward. The graphic element of Hint charms is really appealing and I was utterly enchanted from the first moment I saw Beth’s work back in 2010.


So last year, I chose a tiny Laksmi lotus symbol for financial abundance (time to stand on my own two feet), and an open hand for the kindness and safekeeping that I want to remember to show to others. To always offer a hand instead of stepping over. A hummingbird (a special bird to me) was added to remind me to live in and share joy and I added a rabbit for abundantly fertile creativity and productiveness. Because, bunnies.


Once I had my intention and word for this year, I knew I really wanted to add that idea to my charm amulet. I wanted to symbolize my word “renewal” and honor that I am still undergoing a rebirth from difficult things. I chose a tiny sterling phoenix and added it to my amulet.


I am not who I was when I put the original necklace together. I still carry the hopes, ideals and intentions I put into it. But I see life as a growing thing. Always changing. We add to it. I am so often exhilarated by the process of starting over and transformation, but the struggles are ongoing! I’m still emerging from those flames.

Sometimes you want to walk with your word or your idea in a slightly different way and this felt right to me. Thanks, Beth, for the lovely addition to my amulet. I love it so much!

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I am sorry for the backlog and post spam on various feeds – but since we have no internet, sometimes I have to save up posts as I go.

The huge horrible task of taking our very overgrown and wild yard down to bare earth and creating a fire-safe zone around the cabin is done. The last of the bags of detritus went off to the slash pile this morning. Oh there’s a spot here or there, I suppose, but for the most part we are ready to settle into some kind of routine maintenance. We cleaned up the pile of boxes that we’d been using to hold kindling and firestarting material, and now I’m pretty happy with how the front of the house is looking.


Of course now that I say that, I think, “Oh but we have to put in pavers by the front walk and I wanted to lay down pea gravel on the parking berm and… and… and…” and the Captain looks at me dubiously, knowing that the list of things that start with, “Honey Please Help Me Do This…” is growing. And not that I blame him, you know. There is reading to be doing. Always. Pea gravel and pavers can butt into book time if you let them. The trick is not to let them.


We are in the process of demoing our back deck, which was rotten and squishy. Fortunately we have someone doing that for us or we’d never have a chance to pick up a book or a pen or a pair of pliers. A little disconcerting to look out the back door and see an 8 foot drop. The cats keep running over and meowing anxiously at the window. “Hey guys? Uh. I hate to tell you this but, someone stole our deck.” Like the little plastic castle, it seems to be a surprise every time.


I have big plans for spring. New bird feeders and some bird baths, a stone path to the creek, and perhaps a little bridge up the daffodil hill where the fire pit lives. I am slowly creating what amounts to bird nirvana in our yard. I’ve been putting feeders out around the property to lure them in. We are getting this mob of birds coming ’round now. Mostly finches – specifically, Oregon Juncos. As the world spreads in bird-land, the finch mob is getting bigger and bigger every day and we’re beginning to see other birds like red breasted nuthatches, black capped chickadees, grackles, crows, and of course, the trio of cheeky stellar jays that has been visiting ever since we moved in.


My birds are a source of unending delight. I will miss them when they move south for the worst of the winter.


A red shouldered hawk moved in the other day. Every jay in the neighborhood came out and shrieked at him for a solid hour, counting coup by swooping in behind him and snatching at his feathers. Such sound and fury! Signifying nothing, as it turned out. The hawk flipped his wings feathers a few times and ignored them, flying away when he was good and ready and not a moment before. I’m not sure where he has gone, but I am pretty sure he’ll be back, now that he knows where all the smaller birds and rodents are hanging out.

The pace here is slower and quieter, but richer somehow.


There is more room for thinking and less noise to keep you from it. I feel like we are just now starting to get into tune with it and soon winter will be here just when I am starting to adjust to autumn. I have to admit that as the days get darker, I have been struggling with feelings of depression and sadness. What’s that line from the Simon and Garfunkle song? Hello darkness my old friend. Yes, it’s like that. After so many years of a mostly even keel, I am reminded that oh yes, depression is something I have to manage. Dammit. It makes me angry and it makes it hard to move some days. I don’t want to be reduced to pulling the blackout curtains shut and going back to bed in the middle of the afternoon, but I’ve had more than one or two days where that was the best I could do for myself. Still, I know the ways to work with this, even if my mental muscles are unused to a hard workout, and I will light whatever candles against the darkness that I can.

I didn’t think I’d miss LA but I do. It’s hard to be so far away from the Youngest, and I am missing our community of friends and my community of artists. I have yet to tap into that community here and I feel a bit adrift, even more cut off because the daily connection that comes with internet is sorely lacking. I’m trying to reframe what living with that means up here. Realizing just how many things I left behind me when I left Los Angeles for these mountains and pine trees. Mourning, adjustment, renewal… challenges present themselves endlessly. I just haven’t felt challenged by this particular issue in a while, and I guess I’d been lulled into a false sense of security about it. Depression gone! Hahaha! Freedom! Well no. Endless sunlight and stable medication, more like.

One of the things I missed when I moved to LA was the sense of inward time that comes with winter, with cold and with grey skies. Crone time, I used to call it. At some point I stopped missing it and forgot that it was once an important part of the rhythm of my year. So here is an opportunity to renew my acquaintance with it all over again. I wonder what lessons it will hold? What is calling to grow bigger and better and deeper. I’m grateful for the room up here on the mountain to just live with it all for a bit and see where it takes me.


As the year gets darker, I am grateful for the act of building the morning fire, of stacking the firewood, raking the yard, of taking care of my cats, of washing vegetables from our CSA each week and cooking dinner with the Captain… that rhythm is kind of like a heartbeat in the shadows and it helps me maintain. The cats do their part, making sure I am laughing.


Living is different here. I like it. The other day was cold, so I put on my warm coat when I went out. I felt so grateful to have it, so grateful for the simple feeling of being warm. At some point I just started taking things like that for granted. There is a lot of gratitude. Not the deliberate practice of coming up with a list each day, just the sense of thankfulness that comes because you are genuinely glad that something is real or true or exists in your world. Small things, big things, things you can’t touch… I swim in it daily.


Darkness, messy yard, and all.

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The Nuthouse is finally beginning to resemble a place where someone lives, rather than a labyrinth of boxes and stuff that hasn’t yet found a home and my studio is mostly unpacked, though I am nowhere near organized enough to work yet.


Still, it’s nice to see all the familiar things, and I was happy to unpack my tools, say hi to my hammers and my saw, to put beads on shelves and to organize boxes of paints and sketchbooks. The new studio is about 1/3 of the size of my old one, with less than half the available work surfaces and shelves for storage. It will be all right if I can just keep it organized and tidy, so I’m unpacking with an eye towards that. Frankly, I couldn’t use all the work surfaces in my old studio most of the time anyway because they were filled with piles of crap, so this isn’t going to be much of a change. As with most of the challenges I’ve had with the house so far, this one is going to be a good opportunity to do things more mindfully and to work with more intention.

The weather has started to turn from hot hot summer to crisp autumn. Days are still warm, but the nights and mornings… oh they aren’t so warm. I’m happy we’re getting the chilly mornings now so I can acclimate a little bit before the real cold comes. The Nuthouse is very snug though, when it is cold outside. We have a great little woodstove. The cats really approve of that. Ollie, in particular, has a great affection for the stove.


While they’ve all been exploring the pleasures of radiant wood heat over the last few days, Ollie was the first of our crew to really commit himself to the experience. Because he is brave and intrepid like that. Two points to Team Tuxedo.


I heated with a woodstove once upon a long time ago back when the oldest sprog was a baby. It has come back pretty quickly, though I have to say that this model is a lot more deluxe than the one we used 20+ years back. It has dual air intake temperature controls and a removable ash pan, plus a side door for loading logs and a front door for building and lighting. I really like that! I loaded it up the other night, phoned the Captain and we had the ceremonial first lighting of the stove together. Bummer to do it with him in LA and me up here on the Mountain and not together like we’d planned, but hey it was cold and yay land line, right? Ok actually it wasn’t really a ceremonial first lighting, he was holding my hand while I lit the stove and feeling paranoid and anxious about something going horribly wrong.

We had a hell of a rainstorm yesterday. Thunder and lightning, several bouts of hail (you know you’re a jewelry maker when you are looking at the hail stones and offhandedly think to yourself that they look like 10-12mm quartz beads), and torrential downpours. Actually I think it was probably not that torrential, although it all seemed like a lot of water to me of course. It was over by dawn and we had bright blue skies when I woke up today. So maybe that was a little bit of a warm up rainstorm? I don’t know if they get thunder and lightning and hail often here in the mountains, but I hope so. The cats and I were beautifully toasty inside, with the fire crackling in the stove providing a counterpoint to the drumming water on the roof and the BOOM! flashes of light and sound going on outside.

It was all kinds of beautiful when we got up this morning.

Drops of water clinging to every leaf and pine needle, all illuminated by the early morning sun, kind of made the whole world into a brilliantly glittering and light filled thing.


Steam was rising off of every surface as the sun hit it. Moss, the deck, the chairs, our neighbor’s cabin. I’ve really never seen anything like it. All shades of wood and brown and green with sparkling water drops and cottony white puffs of mist. I looked at all that and thought to myself, you know, how do you even do something like that justice? How do you share that? I don’t think you really can. You can try. But some things really just have to live in your experience. Then again, a camera helps.


The flowers my mom gave us as a housewarming gift are all perked up and loving the morning sunshine after their bath. She ways they will last until the first frost. I’m not sure when that will be but maybe not too long now – so I will enjoy them while I can.


It is breathtaking and beautiful and the world is somehow all washed clean, just like after a rain in LA, but in a totally different way. The thin layer of ash that was clinging to this part of the world seems to have been washed off, and all the colors are more vibrant today. I know they say that the Rim fire won’t be fully out till the first snow, but I hope the rain helped the firemen a little bit at least.

I’m off to clear my studio some more and perhaps there will be some sketching after breakfast and morning chores. I have an Autumn Morning After Rain necklace in my mind. All crystal drops and leafy peridot against a darker framework of woody browns and golden yellows. There’s a story that wants told.

I love it here.

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(You are getting two blog posts today because of Internet Issues, and because I probably won’t get back to the cafe for a few more days. So I prewrote these at the cabin over the last couple of days.)

I think my favorite part of moving in is finding the little things that make something feel like it’s yours, like you live here and not some other person whose life is unfamiliar. I love making a new place pretty and it’s been especially fun with the Captain because holy cow, we’re building a home that is ours, not mine or his, but ours. So I put a few of my things out, he puts some of his things out, they go on the same table and viola, at some point, it becomes ours. A painting I gave him sits near a framed photo taken by a woman he lived with decades ago is next to a thing my ex husband gave me while we were married. I am kind of glad to know that love endures and what was precious remains so. That even though time can change the shape of a relationship, the relationship can carry forward in a new incarnation. I like that as we put our home together, we are making space for who we were before these four walls.


It’s nice to walk into our bedroom where I hung the pretty blue candle holders, where his mattress is covered with my quilt, where our dressers frame the window and his funky velvet chair makes a reading nook next to the table I painted, and think, “Hey this is our bedroom that we share.”

It’s a work in progress. But we’re doing it together.


Moving day was a real adventure. The truck came late – which prompted one huge teary meltdown on my part – and they had to repack the 26′ truck 3 times – which prompted a lot of growling on the Captain’s part because we were paying them by the hour. And then, a whole bunch of stuff didn’t ever even make it up the hill because our movers didn’t play enough Tetris games as children. As it turns out, that was probably good. The Nuthouse is not, alas, equipped with Time Lord technology. We had pared down a lot before we left LA, but at some point the other day we realized that we probably didn’t actually need nine spatulas, six frying pans, two pasta pots, and four and a half mismatched sets of silverware for just two people.

One of the things I’ve tried to keep in mind as we’ve set up camp is that saying by William Morris (which I am going to paraphrase) to “Have nothing in your home that is not both useful and beautiful.” Everything we’ve kept is something we’re happy to see when we need it and I think that’s probably rather the point of having things. Yes it’s risky to use the “best” Franciscan vintage plates for every day and they might break, but, why-ever would you not? Life is risky and things break and sometimes they don’t work the way you expected.

You should probably just use the good plates.


Even with all that, space is problematic. We’re finding ourselves having to creatively repurpose things. For example, a DVD rack on top of the old living room bookshelf makes a pretty good china cabinet.

I know.

It looks like a DVD shelf sitting on a bookcase.

Just, pretend.

Travel to the world of Pure Imagination. There now. Isn’t that a great china cabinet? Of course, the trickle down theory of using bookshelves for china cabinets means that this has created issues around storing our actual DVDs and books, but, that’s also a work in progress.

I keep coming back to the idea of just… letting things go. At some point, I realized that I didn’t have to keep all my books just because an author I liked wrote them or because I’d paid money for them once upon a time. How about, and this is a novel idea, just keeping the books I actually enjoyed? It was astonishing, as revelations go, and soon I was rooting through books and merrily packing them back into boxes. Now my shelves are full of my very best friends, the used bookstore in Twain Harte is about to get an infusion of nifty tomes, and I’m walking a little lighter.


The cats are starting to settle in. Panoramic Bird TV at every window is endlessly fascinating to them. Charlie, our Elder Statescat and Gentleman Explorer, would like to go out exploring the woods (he used to be an indoor/outdoor cat), but he is old and rickety like our decking and I have decreed that here on the mountain they are all still Indoor Cats. Here it is not so different from Altadena’s foothills in that we have coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, foxes and other things that would like nothing better than to nosh on a fat, crunchy on the outside, cream-filled cat snack. Soon they will learn that life for Indoor Cats up here on the mountain includes cosy woodstove mornings. I don’t think they’ll mind those. I’m looking forward to their first snowfall! Because as I have said before, snow is a Thing That Happens, here.


Sadly, our waiting on the Rim Fire means that all the time we’d slated for Captain Sexypants to be here to settle in was eaten up and he had to turn around and go back to LA two days after the truck got unloaded. Grip work happens when shows are shooting, and shows are shooting now. The mountain is very quiet with the Captain gone, and I’m not used to quite this much solitude, but, I don’t hate it. I kind of love it.

We haven’t got internet yet, and given some infrastructure issues, we won’t for at least another month or two. I’m planning on using a local cafe for free wi-fi every couple of days at this point. What this means for me and for the shop is slightly longer shipping windows for the next few months and longer response times for conversations. For now, I plan to check the shop every 2 or 3 days, and shipping window is now 1-2 weeks for in stock items. Custom orders remain at 4 – 6 weeks. What that means for my customers is that you probably want to order early if you have a time constraint or want to make a particular date. I can no longer guarantee a short window and won’t be able to until our internet is sorted out. Which will hopefully be before the first snow, but it may not, so order early for Christmas.

No, it isn’t one bit like what we expected.

It’s way better.

Life is funny like that.

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Holy cow, we made it.

We moved in.

We live on top of a mountain, now.

And now? Settling in with a nice cup of tea.

My favorite tea is from Harney & Sons and is their Russian Country blend. It’s a substantial cup that manages to be delicately, delightfully smoky. Kind of like the mountain right now. The Rim Fire is still only 80% contained but pushing back up towards wilderness and granite and not so much towards houses anymore. There are fewer firemen on our side of things, though I’m told they will have crews out here until the first snow. “The first snow.” People up here say that like, you know, it just snows like a normal thing that you can expect, like a train or the mail, which I guess it does. There’s going to be a first snow and then a second snow and a third, until it’s all snow. That’s usually the thing they say before they eye my little red Honda and say, “You have a 4wd, right?” and we say, “Uh. No. We’re working on it.” and they say, “Good. Because, you know, you’ll get a LOT of snow up there.”

You know. A lot of snow. Like you get, like a normal thing.

Our boxes are slowly becoming a stack of broken down cardboard, and the house is slowly taking on a new life, pieces of our previous lives mixing up to make something entirely new.

Seems like a good time to stop and make a cup of tea.


We have the world’s ricketiest deck at the moment. It creaks and groans and a part fell down the other day, so we will be getting a new one soon. You must step carefully on this one, so we do, and so far it seems to be holding up under our combined weight. The Captain is intrepid and fearless and has set up our little mosaic table outside on the far edge of the decking, in defiance of gravity and entropy and other things that end with “y” like “rickety” and “scary” because he really likes to sit outside.


It will get replaced sooner rather than later, but for now it is a pretty nice place to sit and have a cuppa, once you’ve picked your away across.


The view is lovely and it is quiet, and maybe the kind of place that makes you realize that you haven’t really sat down and stopped and enjoyed a cup of tea in a long long time. Oh sure you’ve had a cup of tea, but your mind has been racing on to the next thing and you haven’t really Been Here Now in any kind of meaningful way. Maybe not in years.


One of the lovely things about a nice cup of tea, of course, is that it can make the world slow down a little bit, if you let it. And sometimes when you slow down a little, you might realize that you are sitting here eating your favorite cheese with an apple and think to yourself that it’s been a long time since you’ve actually stopped and tasted the apple that you are eating. Or the cheese. Or really anything else. You might rediscover the delights of sitting down at the table with someone you love, and having an actual conversation over a meal that isn’t eaten in front of a TV or a laptop, a meal that didn’t come from Takeout Taxi but maybe your own stovetop.

For the record? My favorite cheese (Cypress Farms Purple Haze chevre, for the curious) tastes amazing with a bit of tart fall apple and some smoky tea.


but I digress. The point is, this place kind of lends itself to a nice sit down and a bit of cheese. It’s the kind of place and the kind of quiet that makes you think that maybe you could actually do your Morning Pages every day and not feel impatient about them. That maybe you will have time to draw all the things you have been wanting to draw and think all the thoughts you have been wanting to think.


Even the social scene is changing and bringing new friends who are happy to stop by for a drink and a chat.

Life on the mountain is good and a little bit smoky.

Kind of like a nice cup of tea.

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The Rim Fire

Our moving truck is supposed to be here in 3 days to load up, and then we will be moving into our new home in the Sierras, right? Well, not so fast there, cowboy. The Rim Fire is burning a hole in our plans.

Fire Glow
photo credit – Steve Ryan (some rights reserved)

Looks like we’ll be putting our stuff into storage and visiting with my Mum in the Valley for a few days, till they get this thing contained.

Rim Fire 2013
CA National Guard – photo credit – some rights reserved

Rim Fire 2013
CA National Guard – photo credit – some rights reserved

The folks on the fire lines are nothing short of Big Damn Heroes. Thank you, National Guardsmen and women, Cal Fire and the Forest Service, and all the other small crews and departments from around the state (and indeed, the country!) that have contributed resources to fighting this blaze. Y’all are remarkable.

I went on Flickr and found some photos that are ok to show here under creative commons license. If you want some others, clicky the link above.

Rim Fire 2013
photo credit – CA National Guard – some rights reserved

Rim Fire 2013
photo credit – CA National Guard – some rights reserved

DC 10
photo credit – Steve Ryan (some rights reserved)

I feel pretty anxious about it all, but what are you going to do? I guess this is an adventure we are having. My thoughts are with those displaced by this blaze and the folks whose homes are in its path. Two leggers and four.

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The packing continues. And continues. In fact, I feel like it might never end. Today I started to see some progress in the studio, and in fact I cleaned off my clay table and my bead bench pretty thoroughly. Ziplock bags are my friends, and I will be hiring a handy high school student to come sort beads and findings for me, once I get settled. I have to admit that several slush bowls just got dumped into bags, but I am trying hard to sort carefully.

Breaks are good things, and I’m taking lots of ‘em. Internet breaks, painting breaks, class breaks…

I’m doing this course online with Val Webb that’s pretty fantastic. Watercolor lettering. This week we’re learning to do simple botanical borders and words made from our own cursive.

Border practice - Watercolor Lettering with Val Webb

This is a go at some borders. I’ve got a lot of practice to do, obviously, but I’m starting to get the hang of it and I am REALLY enjoying the watercolors. I’m using M Herman watercolor pigment, it’s made with honey, and Val has us limited to 5 primary colors (two blues, two reds and a yellow). We’re learning to mix up the colors we need, as we go, from the primary palette.

Also learning to work off limited palettes in my Mastering Twinks class with Dion Dior.

Triads - Mastering Twinks with Dion Dior

Here she had us use the 4 triads from our primary color wheel and mix up the colors we needed to do this simple piece. TONS of fun, and the mica really made it interesting.

I think the coolest thing about this kind of coursework is when you begin to see the glimmers of all the things you don’t know. When you see beyond the veil and start to grok pieces that you might want to pick up now. Proportion, relationships between objects, size, hue, color value, how the color wheel really works, remembering that two and two make four and cadmium yellow and pthalo blue make a brighter green than if you used ultramarine instead… stuff like that.

It’s a really fun exploration and it makes me want to keep going further. Art can be so inspiring and nourishing! I’m grateful for all the coursework that’s available online, in books, and sometimes just floating out there on the web for free.

And it gives me something to think about, besides packing.

That is all to the good.

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Last Day

So yesterday we loaded up the remaining inventory, took Ozma off the wall and turned off the lights for the last time in booth 116. We will go back to get all the packed up things out of the booth at some point, but really, this was it.

Yesterday might have been one of the harder days I’ve had, really. It was right up there with the day that The Ex Mr. Honey&Ollie moved out. Right up there with bad breakups and lost jobs.

So this morning has started off with a bit of, “Well what am I going to do now?” There are orders to get out, of course, and things that need to be done, and frankly, I just can’t get arsed to care. The last thing I want to do is walk in to my studio this morning.

Hell, even my usual round of reading blogs/art inspiration/Pinterest is distressing. Looking about at blogs and art and things that other people are doing just seems to point up all the things I’m not great at or don’t know how to do. It’s all coming together and generating this perfect storm of feelings of failure, which is not really why I go around looking at art and blogs in general. Inspiration should not inspire one to greater depths of despair! But maybe today is not the day to look at everybody else’s highlights reel.

Some mornings you really just want to curl up under a blanket and put a pillow on your head. And this is one of them. This morning, about all I can say is that I am not going to curl up in a fetal position and put my head under a pillow. And that’s about the best I’ve got.

I think that, today, I’m just going to take it minute by minute. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be up to hours. And then I’ll be in Kansas where everything will be new and alien and I’ll be worried about thunderstorms and the possibility of a tornado picking up the house we’re staying in and dropping it on a witch. And me without ruby slippers. We timed this trip on purpose, so it would give me no time to stew about failures and skillsets I don’t have yet and the horrible looming question of “What Am I Going To DOOOOO?” which seems like it should be settled by now, at the ripe age of 42.

Perhaps today, however, the best I can do is avoid all the blogs and all the talent and all the highlights. Today it’s just me and some cats, and later on Captain Sexypants will come by and we’ll watch a movie, and it’ll be what it is. Minute by minute.

it’s good to do your best, whatever that looks like.

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