Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Flowers of early late fall

Camellias are a special part of late fall and winter in the Southeast. Camellia Sasanqua bloom in the fall. The bushes are over 10 feet tall and full of buds. A hard freeze will destroy the blooms, so some years the display gets cut short by the weather.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I finished a necklace that I started a couple of months ago. The pattern came from Bead and Button, April, 2007. It is a Russian St. Petersburg chain with a bezeled square Swarovski crystal. The colors aren't really showing true in the picture. This was my first St. Petersburg chain. It's a fun stitch and one I want to do again.

This is a cuff I made from a mixed bead collection that I got from Annette at the recent bead retreat. I used size 8 seed beads in a 2 drop Peyote stitch for the base. Then added all the other beads using size 15 seed beads.

I recently had the opportunity to buy some David Christensen glass beads. I'm not sure what I am going to do with them, but I do have fun taking them out of their baggie and playing with them.

Pastels and jewel colors

Big beads

That's the beady stuff that I have right now.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The long, slow fall

Some years the trees seem to change colors and fall off the the limbs in a weeks time. This year the colors are slow to change. This oak is holding on to it's green as long as it can. I love the way the red mixes with the green.

This maple has a wonderful pale yellow color with a bit of red. Leaves on the same branch are green with just a hint of yellow or red.

Looking up through the canopy the fall colors seem to be winning. Once a hard freeze hits the area I am sure that the leaves will tumble to the ground.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Muddy colors

Fall is slowly coming to Western North Carolina. I don't think the trees are ready to give up their summer color just yet. I love how the tips of a branch will be bright red or yellow while the rest of the tree is stoic green. We drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway the past weekend to see the colors in the higher elevations. The day was overcast. Even along the parkway there was lots of green in the landscape. The yellow, red, golds were there, but muted. I think the long drought has had an effect on the fall colors, too.

Our poor pond is still a muddy puddle. At least there is some water for the wildlife.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Fall color peaking through the green

The night time temperatures in the lower elevations of the Western North Carolina mountains are cooling signaling the trees and vines that fall is here. I wonder how the colors will be this fall with the low rain fall of the past summer. The few leaves that have turn stand out against the green leaves and dark trunks.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Sky's hurt paw

Sometime Monday afternoon Sky tore her dew claw on her left front paw. I do not know how she tore it. She came inside around 6 P.M. and I noticed she was licking her left front leg a great deal. She let me look at it. The claw was at a funny angle and I could see the quick of the claw. Since it wasn't bleeding we decided she could wait until morning to see the vet.

We have a wonderful veterinarian who is part of a equally wonderful clinic. The vet we usually see was not in on Tuesday, so Sky saw another doctor of the practice. They gave her a local anesthetic and removed the damaged claw. She was a good girl and polite to everyone there. She was very happy to get home and relax a bit. She came home with her paw wrapped in a teal bandage with stars.

You could tell it hurt her. I really like that the vet always manages pain in our dogs. I think some neglect that. Animals tend to be stoic and not show when they hurt. That doesn't make the pain less. Pain medication was sent home with Sky. It seemed to help as she did not mess with her bandage much. It was wrapped tightly to stop any bleeding. The vet hoped she would keep the bandage on until morning.

Sky is a great patient and kept the bandage on and did not mess with it. We removed it and put a clean pad and bandage on. She is feeling better, but still isn't up to chasing her ball. The claw will grow back, but it is going to take some time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

All strung together

I've been trying to play with beads in a different way since my hand is still healing from CTR surgery. To string beads together and get a pleasing design is far harder to me than weaving little seed beads. I have so much respect for those that string beads and end up with a pleasing creation. I have a hard time with taking balance, color, shape and getting them to play nicely. Below are three bracelets that I have been working on over the past two days. I know which one I don't like, but I'm still not sure I like the other two. I won't tell you how many I have torn apart. All suggestions on how to improve them would be greatly appreciated. (click on the picture and you will see a larger version.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

A few blue things

My left hand is still healing from carpel tunnel release surgery. Bead weaving stitches such as Peyote, herringbone tire it quickly. I don't want to slow the healing process so I do those stitches for a few minutes at a time. That makes finishing a project a slow process. To have some fun I have made some simpler things.

This is the Fabulous Fifties pattern by Glenda Payseno. It's a fun pattern that can look so different depending upon the beads used. This bracelet is on its way to my sister for her birthday.

I made these to go along with the bracelet. I like using the same beads when I make earrings to go with a bracelet or necklace, but I like them to look different. I hope sis likes them.

Since I was having so much fun with the blue beads, I came up with this bracelet. It's a fun bracelet.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Summer's end

The fall equinox has occurred and the days are slowly getting shorter. The seasonal change to fall in the South is slow and relaxed. This is my favorite time of the year. Late summer rains brought by tropical systems have encouraged fall flowers and a new green growth. I like the colors of fall. Even with everything still green the traditional colors show themselves.

The pond on the mountain property has a bit of water and a few frogs are about. The rain there has brought out fall flowers in abundance. Here are two of the tiny ones I found.

The nights are getting cool while the days are still warm. It is a good time of year to be outside.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The end of Summer

The calendar indicates that summer is at an end. In the south the end of summer comes a bit slower than in other parts of the US. We have been luck to have rain fall in August and September that has brought new growth to the fall flowers.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Looking inside the Beaded Sphere

I've had a few days to explore my new book The Beaded Sphere by Judy Walker. It is a nice large format (measuring 8.5 by 11 inches), hard covered book with 231 pages. Color photos and detailed, color diagrams are on each page. She has divided the book into 5 sections with the first describing the basic technique. The technique is detailed in words and color diagrams with the thread paths clearly marked. I am a visual person and do best with diagrams in learning a new technique. Judy's diagrams are wonderful. She uses a different color for each bead row, arrows to show the direction of the thread and the thread path is clearly marked.

Her descriptions are well written and are in terms that are easy to follow. I think someone with very little beading experience will be able to pick up this book and learn her technique. The second section of the book are variations of the basic shape from section one. Not only do you learn the hexagon shape, but also square, star, triangles, rectangles and many more. She describes how the shape is made so you can take this information and create your own shape in the size you want. She also teaches you how to make filled shapes. Once again there are plenty of diagrams detailing each step.

Section three has 13 projects that are made with the the techniques described in the previous sections. I really like the mixture of diagrams and photos that accompany each project. It is easy to see what the written word is describing. I am anxious to get my left hand working again so I can try some of these beautiful shapes.

The fourth section is a gallery of beautiful bead work made with these techniques. She has pictures of her work as well as others. It is inspirational to see all the variations in full color. The fifth section has basic directions for even and odd count Peyote and tubular Ndbele stitches. The type of beads used are described and resources for those beads are provided.

The book is a very complete one meaning that everything you need to know to make a beaded sphere or any project is found in the book. You do not have to have a working knowledge of beading in order to use this book. I think this is a wonderful book and a great addition to my library. I know it is going to get lots of use and will be opened on the work table most of the time instead of sitting on the shelf. To get a glimpse inside this book, please visit Judy's web page.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Beaded Sphere

Look what was in the mail today!

I'm so excited to get this book! In early July I found that Judy Walker had a book sharing her amazing techniques almost ready for purchase. I have long admired her work and wrote to her asking to be notified when the book was available. She offered a pre-publication deal and has kept everyone updated with the book's progress. Five days ago I received an email letting me know the book was on its way from California to South Carolina.

It has that wonderful new book smell that reminds me of when I worked in the high school library. If you will excuse me, I've got some reading waiting for me. I love brand new books.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ice Cube, A Bracelet and The BJP

I finished my Ice Cube the other day. It is a pattern by Laura McCabe called Crown Jewel. I used 18mm Swaroski Rivolis in Crystal AB. Rivolis are fun to bead around and can be so many pretty things.

Below is a bracelet I recently finished. It is right angle weave with a 4 mm glass pearl in the center of each little square.

I've started thinking about my theme and page size for the 2008 Bead Journal Project. There are 260 members this year from 16 different countries. The project has 3 blogs to track the progress of the members.They are listed to the right. It seems that Blogger has changed its rules and now allow only 100 contributors to a blog. Creating 3 blogs for the project is a great way to deal with the numbers.

Beyond the Garden Fence is my theme for the year. Choosing a size is giving me more trouble. Last year I picked 7 by 7 inches and that was way too big. I know I am going smaller this year, but how small. One idea I have is to use the little Altoids tins as the page. I like the idea of opening the tin to see the 'garden'. I also want to learn about polymer clay and I could cover some of the tins in clay. The tin can also be covered in beads and fabric. The notebook created to write and sketch ideas for the project is getting busy with ideas. I just wonder if I am getting in over my head again.

The main complication is that I am going to have carpel tunnel release surgery preformed on my left hand. The right release was about 3 years ago. I love the result as the hand was waking me up at night with not only numbness, but pain. I would have to get up and put ice on the area. The doctor said the longer I let it go the bigger chance there was for nerve damage.

The left had doesn't get used as much, so I have been able to baby it along. But I took a wire working class this past spring. That really used the left hand and I've had to use the brace every night since then. It's not going to get better and there is never a good time to have the surgery.

Back to the BJP. I don't want to get too far behind because of the surgery. Since it is the left hand which I don't use it as much for embroidery as other bead work, I'm hoping I can start beading again three to four weeks after the surgery. I think I am going to do the first few pages in a size that will fit the tin and if I can to the project with the tins----great. If not, it is still a good size. I've already started on the first page-----but I'm keeping it behind the garden fence for now.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Let it Rain

We recently spent a few days camping on our property in Western North Carolina. The weather was beautiful and much cooler than we expected. The area has been in some state of drought since the late 1990's. It is now classified as "Exceptional Drought" which is the most extreme level.

The picture is of a shallow pond on the property. This is the first time it has been this dry since we owned the property. There was always a small puddle for the deer to drink out of. Now it is dry enough to drive across. The pond used to be home to many frogs and newts. I hope a few of them are hiding in the bit of mud in the center of the pond waiting for the rain.

Rain did come the first few days of this week as the remnants of Tropical Fay passed by. I had really hoped she would move to the state sooner and leave a bit more rain. Instead she waltzed across Florida a few times. It seems much of the rain this time of year comes from tropical systems or weather systems from the Gulf of Mexico. Hopefully the fall months will bring more rain to the area.

Many of the trees are showing signs stress from the years of low moisture by turning yellow and dropping their leaves in the late summer before the temperatures cool. There are several trees dropping leaves. The tree in the center of this picture is a Sweet Gum with leaves that are brown and shriveled. It looks different than the ones dropping leaves. I am afraid it may not recover.

We never drive very fast on the mountain roads because they are steep with lots of switch backs and curves. Often deer are crossing the roads, which is another reason to drive slow. These two crossed the road in front of us and then stopped in the trees to watch. Can you see them? Below is a enlarge portion of the photo. It's kind of fuzzy, but hopefully you can see them looking at us.

The deer almost always stop to watch us pass in the car. If we stop and watch long enough they will move on. As long as we stay in the car, they appear to take their time, but if we are on foot, they don't waste time moving away from us.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Warning: Four Paws Pimple Ball is Dangerous

Dog owners need to know of the dangers of this toy.

It looks like a fun toy for dogs to play with. Round, bouncy, made of rubber. What could possible be dangerous? The problem is that the ball is small enough for the dog to put the whole thing in his mouth. The dog's jaws are powerful enough to bite down on the ball and squeeze it. When that happens the hole becomes a shape that allows the tongue to go inside of the ball and when the dog stops biting the ball the tongue is stuck inside of the ball. There is only one hole in the ball, so a vacuum is created and the dog can not get his tongue out.

This has happened to several dogs. Chai is a recent victim of the ball. Chai, a beautiful 10 year old lab mix got his tongue stuck inside this ball. His owner could not help him and rushed him to the vet. What follows is not easy to read. It does appear that Chai is going to recover, but his tongue did have to be amputated. Life isn't easy for Chai right now.

This should not have happened as other dog owners have documented this problem to the Four Paws company since 2005 or earlier. Please read Chai's story and write to Four Paws to request the recall of this toy . You can contact them through their web site that still shows the ball available. There is a small contact us button at the bottom of the page. Notice the ball is now a different color than the one that Chai had, but it appears to be the same, dangerous design.

I'm off to hug my two dogs.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Screen covered in sticky notes

I used to have the little frame around my computer screen covered with little paper Post-it notes. They were there to remind me of birthdays, doctor's appointments, to get the dog's heartworm medicine and many other things. At some point I came across Stickies. They are little post it notes that are on the screen. I love them. I have been using them for years. I tried the Google side bar that had a little note section, but it was not big enough to show everything at one time. I would have to scroll down to see everything---if I remembered there might be more.

Stickies can be place anywhere on the screen. They have several font choices and formatting options. You can make them any size and even stack them on top of each other. It's a free program. Check it out.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bead Journal Project 2008-2009

Last year I joined the Bead Journal Project started by Robin Atkins. The idea was to create one page of bead embroidery each month for a year. Each person decided upon their own theme, size, and everything else to do with the project. Robin gave this statement
Our primary goal during this process, is to stretch our creative and technical limits. The BJP is all about visual journaling using any media and techniques, as long as it includes beading. We are free to structure our bead journal pages any way we want, as long as all 12 are the same size.
I had never attempted anything like this before. All of my projects of beading, embroidery, cross stitch, or sewing had patterns, diagrams, instructions. I would change bits and parts of the whole, but I had never designed following my own creativeness. It was scary to think of doing this project. It was exciting to think of doing this project. I jumped in, eyes closed, breath held, and surfaced a couple of months later. Some of my pages are in the archives of this blog.

I decided upon a theme of 'seven'. There are many sevens in my life and I thought it would be fun to explore them. My first mistake of the whole project was to decide the size of my page would be 7 inches by 7 inches. Very big, empty space to fill with creativeness. It was too big. Yes, I didn't have to cover every inch of the the page with beads, but that's what I wanted. I did compromise and used fabric as part of the page. I finished 5 pages and have half of the 6th done. Finishing 7 pages would have felt a bit less of a failure.

The good news is that there is a BJP for 2008-2009. If you are interested you can register to participate through August 15. Click this to find the information. I'm sorry that I have posted this so close to the deadline for registration.

I think you should dash over there and register right now. You can think about what you have done later. To be honest, I am disappointed that I did not finish the year, but I do not feel that I failed at the project. I learned so much. One of the main things I learned is that I can reach inside and find some form of creativeness that is my own. I even liked the pages I did. I now know that I don't always need patterns, directions, or guidelines. I enjoyed learning that about myself. I want to learn more, so I have signed up for the next project. Join me and the other 204 participants. If you want to see where all participants are from click this. It is most impressive.

The journal pages can be any size or shape as long as you use the same size and shape through out the year. Beads have to be part of the page, but you do not have to cover every inch of the page in beads. Look here to find some of the pages completed this past year. You can also spend a couple of hours cruising through the 2007 BJP Blog to see some of the creations. It is a wonderful , supportive community.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Summer Flowers

I have sand for dirt around my house. Really---sand. Sand that you would find at the beach. There are areas near by where they dig up the sand, put it in huge trucks and sell it to places hundreds of miles away. It is not easy growing flowers in sand. It's hard to keep them watered and fed. I try to add organic matter to enrich the beds, but it is a slow process. Day lilies seem to like the sand. The main problem with day lilies is that they bloom for a short time and by the first of August they are no blooms to be seen.

Here are some of day lilies from this summer:

There are a few other flowers I can grown in the sand like this Stokes Aster.
Flowers that last the summer have to be in pots in order to thrive

I have tried to grow tomatoes in pots. I have learned that putting them under the pine trees cause the tomatoes to be covered with pine sap. I've gotten a few tomatoes, but cleaning the pine sap off is interesting. We have a friend who has recently bought some land and moved her family and horses there. Perhaps she will have some extra "organic" material to share. I plan to grab a small trailer full and cover the flower beds for the winter.