Posts Tagged ‘cats’

Spacious Nuthouse Estates is currently chock full of nuts! And, er, cats. The Youngest and her cat have come home for an extended summer visit, before heading up to the Pacific Northwest. They’ll be making the permanent move later this fall but we get to enjoy them for a couple of months before they continue their journey to parts farther North.


Er. MOST of us are enjoying the visit. Except for Mr. MacGreedypants here, who won’t share the catnip mice.
I’m particularly glad to have my favorite show assistant back for the start of the summer shows. She’ll be working the next 3 shows with me and I couldn’t be happier about that. I’ve missed her!

I’m busy prepping for the Twain Harte Art and Wine Festival this week – it’s next weekend, the 26th and 27th of July, in downtown Twain Harte. If you haven’t been to this festival, it’s a great one. Two days of artists, crafters, wine tasting, live music and great food up in the beautiful pines.

Feels like it’s been FOREVER since I posted any new jewelry and it really has. I’m trying to get back in the hang of the studio but wow, life sure has been getting in the way.


These lovelies will be on sale. Focal glass beads are from the super talented Genea Crivello-Knable of Genea Beads. Natural quartz points, sari silk and Czech glass… they are just waiting for a quick dip in some patina solution and then they’ll be good to go.


I like the geological twist on these, both the coated druzy stones and the copper representation of a fossilized ammonite.


Plus, new pieces in our Uncial and Urban Tribal collections, and more! Come on out to Twain Harte for some wine in the pines!

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You know how DVDs and movies sometimes have a blooper reel? Well I wound up with a blooper reel from a recent bead photography session, for my new destash bead store, Six Bad Cats.

In fact. Given the name of my new bead shop, I guess the bloopers are really accurate.


Mostly it worked ok for them to sit in the lightbox behind the little bead platform I’d set up.




At any rate. I thought you’d enjoy this look at some of the behind the scenes trials and tribulations that go on here in our jewelry studio. Because, cats.


Lots of bead pictures with no cats over in our new Etsy store. Great prices on gemstone and art beads that I’m destashing from my inventory!

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I’ll be honest. Financial challenges are for the birds. There is all sorts of stuff I need for the studio, we have a huge show coming up, and the extra money to prepare for it just isn’t there.

But here’s the thing.

It’s ok.


The situation is forcing me to work outside the box because I’ve had to work without the comfortable safety zone of certain supplies. In terms of creative growth, that’s not really such a bad thing at all. And sure, maybe a few weeks before a show isn’t when you want to be all “growth!” and “experiment!” because your brain is focused on “production!” and time can feel a little bit short, but… it is what is.


So I am finding that it’s quite simple, really. Do the best you can with what you’ve got.
If you haven’t got what you wanted, try to find something you can use to replace it. Make it yourself, or work around it.


Use your tools.
Use what you have.


Make do.
Make it work.
Make it up.


My grandfather was all about making stuff up with what he had. It isn’t like he wasn’t able to easily go out and buy the easy fix, but the store wasn’t where he mentally started. It was a last ditch resort. He had a lot of fun figuring stuff out. If he were alive today, he would be considered a Lifehack super-genius and people would be all about his Pinterest feed. If something was broken, he’d go down to the shop, putter for a bit, and come back with a little something he’d whipped up to do the job. It wasn’t always pretty, but it always did the job. Sometimes it was pretty – like when he carved Grandma a little wooden fish out of scrap wood, and put a hook on the end so she wouldn’t burn her hands on the toaster oven rack in the mornings. Sure, he could’ve gotten her something at the store. Or handed her a potholder. But the little wooden fish was way better. The wood was there, and he had two hands and the time so that’s what he did. My dad is the same way. He fixes stuff. He engineers clever solutions to life. Captain Sexypants is very much cast from the same mold.


And then there’s me. If someone carves me a clever wooden fish, I’m thrilled to use it, but my first thought was probably to buy one. My most notable life hacks have been Spanx and refried beans. Imagine my chagrin when I remembered that both of those inventions were already available at Target. I keep trying, though.


I’ve been thinking to myself that this isn’t such a bad attitude to take towards life. Better late than never. Living in the mountains is making this whole transition to a new mindset a lot easier. I haven’t built up the muscles I needed to use in order to make do with what I have, because I was living in a city near five shops that had a shiny new version of whatever it was that I wanted. And I had a lot more income to buy those shiny new things when I wanted them. It can be a bit more challenging to develop those “make it work” chops when there is Thai takeaway just a phone call away. Living up here, I have to plan ahead and make my own damn curry.

So. In the studio. Making it work with what I’ve got.


At other shows and in our shop at Crafted, I’ve always tended to fill in around the edges with the art jewelry while focusing on the more traditional collections. This time I’ll be using mostly art jewelry to carry the show. I have absolutely no idea whether or not this stuff is going to go over well. I’d be lying if I said that I’m not a teensy bit worried – I need to do very well at this show. But you kind of have to shove that sort of anxiety and fear into the back of your mind when you are working in the studio or you get into all the wrong sorts of conversations with yourself.

What matters in the short term is that I’m having a good time with it.


I do really love how these more textile oriented pieces – which I have named the “Into The Woods” collection – work with the hammered metal of the Urban Tribal collection.
The new pieces are a lot of fun to wear. Irish linen is very comfortable!


So for the next few weeks, I’ll be in my studio. Making it work. Making do. Making it fantastic. If you need me, you can find me rooting through all the forgotten corners of my stash for things to play with while the cats shake their little pom poms and act encouragingly.




It’s a form of encouragement, anyway.

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This week in mountain weather I have learned that sometimes, rain freezes when it falls.


The tiny frozen raindrops fell gently, like rain, but looked like hail when they hit the ground. I’ve never seen anything like it. They covered the ground and everything outside in a light, sparkly crust. The world looked like someone had taken a sifter and gently sprinkled powdered sugar on top. Sugar which melted a little bit when the sun came out, then refroze into something harder.


Our Very Bad Cat, Bug, Fifth Viscount Naughtypants, is not content to sleep by the fire but rather, must be very busy. He ran outside as the frozen drops were coming down, and we had a merry game of chase which ended with him seeking refuge under a neighbor’s deck. Fortunately he is a young cat, and not always very smart, so he fell for the old “Bag of Tuna Snacks” trick and was quickly lured back out. I have tried to convince him that only a very stupid cat runs outside when ice is falling from the sky, but he insists that he is a fierce outside mountain cat and that he fears no icy paws or hungry mountain lions. That if I would only allow him to run free, he would be the terror of finches and the slayer of field mice, and after all isn’t that what a cat is born to be?

I tell him that cosy wood fires are better than finches and I feel thankful that he hasn’t got thumbs to work the doorknobs when I am not looking.


Now I totally understand why people panic and run to the stores for bread and milk when weather is on the way. Though in our case, it was bacon, honey and sweet potatoes. And a wreath of evergreen for the door. And perhaps some maple syrup and goat cheese as well. It’s important to make sure you don’t starve during a snowstorm. The essentials are key.


It froze even harder in the night, the ice locking us into the cabin as effectively as a foot of snow might have. I’ll be grateful when we get that four wheel drive we are buying, as the little Honda wants to slide everywhere on the slick mountain roads and we just can’t drive it when they are like this.

All this means, of course, that I will not be at Uptown Village Market in Long Beach this weekend, because between the miserable head cold I caught from someone at the Handmade Expo and the ice covered roads that didn’t melt till after noon on the day I was slated to leave, I have thrown in the towel as far as any travel goes. So I will be sorry to miss it, but you should totally check it out anyway. Some good artists on tap!

We will be raising a cup of paleo cocoa to them this weekend.

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The weather has most definitely turned up here on the mountain. Nights are cold, cold cold, and mornings are crisp like the best apple you ever ate. Clear blue skies and autumn sunlight filtering through the pines. After 18 years in LA, all my visual cues are set for “warm” and it is always a shock to step outside and feel the air – always colder than I expect. It was in the 50’s here the other day – probably not cold to someone who hasn’t lived in Southern CA for nigh unto two decades – but certainly on par with what I expect from “winter” there. The woodstove is getting a lot of use in the evenings.

There is some reframing of seasonal norms going on!

But really, that’s not the most exciting thing. Ollie and I made a Discovery the other day… I’d heard rumors before I moved here, of course, of a mysterious tribe that lived in the park. But it was all myth and legend until the other day.

Hark! What is this?


Could it be… kittens? It IS kittens. Three kittens, to be precise.


It is a confirmed kitten sighting and one that I hope will be helpful. I mentioned it to another resident of the park here, and she has called a local rescue group and let them know where the kittens are hanging out. Apparently the group has been aware of them for some time but had been unable to find them. It’s a big park and there is a lot of brush. There have been plans to trap, spay and release the mother/rehome the kittens if they could just be located. Of course, no sooner did we locate them, but the owner of the cabin next to ours came out and started to do some work on the place, scaring them away. I’m hoping they come back.

Meanwhile, inside OUR place, it is All Cats All the Time. There is Exploration going on and I have realized that perhaps I should have taken the mountain of boxes down to our storage unit. I’d hoped to wait for D’s return, as those boxes are heavy and I really don’t feel like shlepping them all to the car by myself, but…


Oh… well… never mind.

Looks like vertical space is in hot demand here at the Fortress of Solitude. We will have some catification to do upon D’s return. A vertical cat superhighway? You bet. The low beam ceiling poses a conundrum, but I have faith that with a little creativity, we will be able to create some up high spaces. Even though I stuck a hummingbird feeder not 12″ on the other side of the living room window, and the hummingbirds provide diversion for most of the day, it would appear that the Gleaming Cat Towers of Gondor are not sufficient variety for our arboreal dwellers.


Princess Bonbon Fluffypants Von Schnitzeltoes has not got many deep thoughts, but she does like exploring.

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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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Another day, much like the last two. Just sitting at home, monitoring various news sources, walking outside to cast worried glances up at the ridge, and waiting to see what the fire will do.

open flame on ridge
taken about 12pm from our corner.

We are currently under “voluntary evacuation” and so, of course, we are staying put. We do plan to leave if they make it mandatory, no stupid heroics here. We have packed cats twice now, thinking we were about to be told to leave, the latest happening late yesterday afternoon, when they blocked off our street and were only allowing people to walk in. They removed the blocks and went away a little later, so we uncrated the cats again. Mittens has now taken refuge under the wok in the kitchen cupboard, and will only come out for tuna or diced sauteed shrimp. Then he runs back into his wok cave. Tiki hid under my bed all night.

flames and smoke
another view of the ridge, slightly to the left.

Last night the canyon up the road exploded in flames as the fire hit some brush or trees, and there were immense glowing red clouds and flames shooting tens of tens of feet into the air. We sat and watched it, horrified but also in awe of how terribly, destructively beautiful it was. Wish I’d gotten pictures but didn’t have my camera and wasn’t about to go get it. There was talk of extending the mandatory evacuation area down to about two blocks above our place, but the fire died down and they did not. This morning it appears that there is one ridge left standing between the fire and various populated areas of Altadena. The fire came within 50 yards of homes in La Crescenta/La Canada Flintridge last night, and the firemen leapt into action! The homes were heroically saved. The firemen are valiant and amazing, working in weather that has exceeded 100 degrees for days in a row, without ceasing. We are so grateful to them! One of the problems they are encountering is that they can not get into the brush and dense mountainous areas so must wait for fire to burn down to them. They are so good at their jobs. We are taking cupcakes to our local FD and to the county FD by way of a thank you when this is all over.

water drop!
Water drop on the ridge, shot from my corner.

Today we are cleaning the house and waiting to see what happens. We are not out of the woods yet, but we are not in any imminent or real physical danger at all right now. LAFD will evacuate well in advance of the fire and we are packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. The cats are the only issue that might slow us down, but we have scouted out all feline hiding places and are secure in the belief that we can catch and crate everyone very quickly.

smoke on the ridge behind houses
not our house. Someone else’s. Imagine they are worried re: the view.

This map is being updated frequently with evacuations, and the progress of the fire. The fire has just exploded over the last two days, quadrupling in size. I am very worried about people in the towns of Ravenna and Acton, as well as the folks here in the Foothill communities that are adjacent to us. Mt. Wilson is another problematic area, because the communications array up there is a major hub for most of Southern CA. If that goes down, we’re kind of fucked.

trying to save the ridge
helicopter and the ridge

Need more info? If you Twitter, then @CalFireNews is good to follow for updates. So is @lafd. The LA Times has good coverage. The City of La Canada Flintridge is posting hourly updates on their city website, though they are .pdf files, and will d/l onto your computer if you click them. Altadenablog.com is a community based resource that is doing a fantastic job of compiling reports, including first hand accounts from residents. Inciweb is another good one.

ashes in spiderweb
spiderweb in the front yard. I imagine Ms. Spider is not thrilled about the ashes in her living room.

Do you want to help? I’m sure the Red Cross could use some donations. I know for sure that the Pasadena Humane Society has put out the call for donations, because they are caring for a LOT of displaced animals right now. If we get evacuated, we have a safe place to take our 6 cats and 1 dog, but not everyone is so lucky. They could use some help.

Lastly… time lapse video of the smoke plume from the fire… breathtaking…

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Meet Bonnie…

Pretty Bonnie

Honey, Ollie, Mittens, Bonnie and Charlie. That’s five. Five cats.

Five is a good number. Consider. There are five books of the Torah, we are living in the Fifth World according to the Maya, there are five cardinal directions, five Chinese elements, and a perfect fifth is the most constant harmony.

We’re seriously so done. We have plenty of cats now. We can rescue no more and I must harden my heart to the pleading eyes of my kids next kitten season. But we’ll enjoy the five rescued sweeties we have very much and know we’re doing our part. We are like, five by five.

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Things are heating up here in the San Gabriel Valley and I don’t mean temperature. I mean, I’m getting BUSY.

There has been a lot of driving about, proving residency, getting permits and applying to our school of choice in the new district. We don’t want to go to our home zoned school – the state took it over last year. If Gov. S can’t make a budget, I don’t want him in charge of my daughter’s HS education. That is for the youngest. The oldest is going to homeschool her final year of high school, and take classes at the local junior college concurrently. Actually, because she has taken extra courses all along, and because she’s met all but 4 senior requirements and passed her CAHSEE, she’ll be graduating in December. Her second term at college in the spring will be her first term as a fully fledged college student, a full semester early.

Go girl!

I am really hoping she will parley this into admission as a junior at a local state uni and continue until she earns a BA, but she has some hare-brained plan to “travel the world!” after graduating with her AA degree in Graphic Arts, then move to Canada and finish her BA up there as a guest of the folks who brought you the Yarn Harlot.

I am also registered in college classes this fall. With any luck I’ll be applying to nursing school in about 3 semesters, once I get a few math, chemistry and bio classes out of my way.

Anyone know a good algebra tutor in the SGV?

On Monday, one of the cats sprouted massive allergies, swelled up, got scabby, explosive in all the wrong ways, and had to be rushed to the vet. He is okay, though we’re still not sure what he’s allergic to. At $400, I will not be running the blood panel to find out. A shot of steroids, an overnight in the hospital, fluids and some special hypoallergenic food will hopefully help. Between Senor Scabbersons, the kitten and the other two cats all needing their own special snowflake food, breakfast time is exciting around here now.

And of course… knitting.

blocky cardi

The blocky pink baby cardi is coming along nicely. The other front panel is going to be a darker pink, with contrasting pockets and sleeve bands on each front panel to tie them together. The button band, neck and hem will all be that pale pink. I think it will be very modular and cute when it’s done.

I am also really enjoying the Loksins! pattern. Lace socks are always a lot of fun and knit up so quickly.


I am knitting this one up in Dream in Color Smooshy. The charted parts are extremely simple and fast. I got this pattern from a secret pal a few rounds back and am finally getting to enjoy the knit. A great on the go sock!

And now I’m off to help #1 Daughter get sorted for her college assessment tests, and then to go buy birthday presents for #2 Daughter, who turns 14 tomorrow and expects something wrapped in ribbons to commemorate the occasion.

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