Sunday, October 16, 2011

Homeless Dogs

Our Dog, Red.

I recently read Nan Emmett's rant about people who don't get their dogs spayed. AMEN, SISTER! But my post today is on a different line. It's homeless dogs. I used to see homeless people with dogs and I'd think "What kind of idiot would get a dog while he's homeless?" But then the kinder side of my brain said "Maybe they had the dog before they were homeless and couldn't part with their friend and companion.".
I see MANY homeless folks on the streets with their signs and if they don't look like druggies or alcoholics (I'm not funding any one's addictions) than I give them a buck or two if I can spare it. But when I see someone with a dog, it breaks my heart. So I have started a one-woman campaign to make sure that at least a few of those dogs don't go to bed hungry.
I bought a big bag of dog food and split it up into 1 gallon Ziploc bags. I added a milkbone or two for a treat and I keep them in the front seat of my car. When I see a homeless person with a dog, they get a couple of dollars and a bag of dog food. It won't end hunger for homeless dogs of the world, but it helps a little and I get endless doggy smiles and tail wags from it.
One more thing before I go. What started this whole "Feed the homeless dogs" thing was a scene a few weeks ago. I was coming home and was stopped at an intersection. On the corner was a man with his dog. The car in front of me honked and beckoned them over. They gave the man two hamburgers from the McDonalds down the street. So what does he do? He takes the meat patties out and gives them to his dog and he eats the buns. There's a special place in heaven for that dog owner.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011


It may just be the first day of Autumn, but I've been thinking HALLOWEEN! It's one of my favorite holidays. I loved dressing up (my favorite costum was a fortune teller)and of course I loved the candy, but there  was more to it than that. It was walking on that edge of fear and thrill. Being in the dark , being ditched by the older siblings, running from door to door before the boogie man could get me. And I LOVE Autumn.
So when my daughter came to me and said she was doing fundraising for Race for a Cure (Breast Cancer), and wanted to know if I could help out, my first thought was Halloween Brooches! So I've made some up and 100% of all of the proceeds go to her fundraising efforts. I'm putting one a day in my Etsy Shop or you can order directly from the blog here. Just leave me a comment saying you want one and I'll get in touch.
The pins ABOVE are approximately 2 inches (5cm) across. They have a black ultra suede backing and they are $17.00 (US) each. Shipping is free. I have a couple more that I am finishing up and I'll get them posted in the next day or so.

These last 2 are an inch and a half across (3.5cm) also have black ultra suede backing. They are $14 (US) and that includes shipping. Again, ALL proceeds go to RACE FOR A CURE.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day of the Dead and a Contest

Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is coming up on November 2nd. For those of you who are not familiar with it, it is a day of honoring your ancestors that is celebrated in Mexico and many of the southern states in the US. One of the customs of the celebration is to make tiny, colorful Sugar Skulls that are decorated with icing as treats for the children. I love making my sugar skulls out of beads. They last longer and have less calories. Ha. I make them as brooches or necklaces and sell them online and at the local crafter's market.
Although most sugar skulls are bone colored. I have a serious market for the black skulls -- mostly among younger customers. This one has a gold tooth - for a bit of whimsey.

One of our local galleries - The Maude Kerns Art Center - has had a Day of the Dead exhibit each year for a very long time and I have always gone to it and promised myself that the next year I would create something to submit for it (it's juried). Well, this year I finally did (and was accepted!). It is titled
 "The Grandmothers" and is a beaded bit that celebrates the lives of my Mother, my maternal Grandmother, and my maternal Great Grandmother. I made the sugar skull out of large, size 8 seed beads. Then I sandwiched photos between glass and did a netting stitch to bind them. Finally, I made a garland of marigolds (used often for Day of the Dead) out of TINY size 18 seedbeads that were like dust specks. Each flower is the size of the end of my little finger and took an hour (each) to make. The base for all of this is an old mantle clock case that I found at a garage sale for $3.
The Exhibit runs from October 14th to November 4th in Eugene, Oregon.

And finally, my favorite bead store, Harlequin Beads, holds a beading contest each month. This month's theme is "Seed Beads", so I created the heart above to enter in it. The prize is a $100 gift certificate in their shop! They sell online as well. So check them out here.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


I recently bought some really nice cameos off of Etsy and have been beading them. I love them. And they seem to be selling well also. Here's a little glimpse...
And for my Halloween Friends...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

She's Growing...

For those of you watching ZD (Or Ziti, as I call her) grow up, here are a few new shots.
These were taken at a picnic that I went to with some friends. Since I had no one to leave her with, she came along - and had a blast!

She is teething a lot and hands and feet are her toys of choice.

Here she is getting her bottle (the rest of us had iced tea).

And here she is sniffing the roses and entertaining Robin.
She has learned how to use the litter box, how to escape from her "crib" and today she ate solid food for the first time, although I still give her a bottle to make sure she is getting enough fluids. It has been pretty hot here and she hasn't quite grasped the lapping water bit.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Update on Baby Cat

You'll probably remember that a couple of weeks ago I started fostering a baby kitten. Since my last report, we have all grown head over heels in love with the little nipper and - with my long suffering husband's blessing - my son is adopting the little one. He named him "Zavalon Dexter", or ZD for short. This was after my husband said that I couldn't name the cat because I always came up with weird names. Guess my son inherited cat naming from me.
So we took the little one to the vet because of problems with colic and diarhea and found out that our "He" was a "She" . Totally OK with that other than the fact that it's more expensive to spay females, but that's minor.

So little ZD is happy and healthy now, She's getting real cat ears instead of her little rounded cub ears she had before. Starting to explore a little bit. Eating canned food mixed with her formula in a bottle and last night she actually played with a kitty toy I had bought for her.

In this picture she looks a little like a squirrel.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sweet Little Baby Needs Me

Approximately 2-3 weeks ago, a feral cat gave birth to a litter of kittens in a field near a friend's house. Not long after, a mower went through the field and killed all of the kittens except this one. So I have a poor little orphan to bottle feed. He's TINY - that's a quarter by his head. And he's been having a little trouble with colic. But I think he will be just fine. I'll be sad when it comes time to part with him. I already have 9 cats and can't take anymore. But I'll feel good knowing that he got a chance at a good life in someone's home - not running around wild.
So here is my rant. There are lots of options out there for low cost spaying and neutering. Please don't adopt a pet if you aren't going to have them fixed.
Another scenario - My father lives out in the country. Someone thought he'd make a great host to their throw-away pet, so they dumped a half feral cat off at his house. He took pity on it and started feeding it, but had a hard time getting close. Unfortunately, the cat was pregnant and very soon gave birth to 2 kittens under his house. By the time that the kittens showed themselves, they were wild as little jack rabbits and twice as fast. Dad kept working with the mama cat and finally got her tamed down enough to catch her and take her in to be fixed. But by that time, one of the kittens was pregnant. So he worked at taming them down and eventually caught her and got her fixed as well, but not before she had 2 kittens of her own. You see where I'm heading? One of her kittens got pregnant and had FOUR kittens. So now from one original stray, he has 9 cats and kittens. I finally saw the need to step in - Dad isn't as young as he used to be, so I went down there and trapped the four kittens - a terrifying experience for them. Then I kept them in my bathroom to try and tame them down a bit. Finally, my friend Janetta, who works for the Humane Society, took them and kept them in her shop and they are now socialized and tame enough to adopt out. But not until they are neutered or spayed!
Two of the 4 kittens from my Dad's house.

If you have a pet and don't want it anymore, PLEASE take it to a shelter. It may cost you a little bit of money, but that is your responsibility for taking it in the first place. The shelter will get it fixed and adopt it out - or it may have to euthanize the poor thing because there are more pets than pet-lovers, but death is preferable to living in the wild where diseases attack cat colonies and they are preyed upon by coyotes and such.
My Daughter, Bryn, feeding a feral orphan. We kept this one.

These are sweet little creatures and deserve a good home. But please don't bring any more into the world. There are plenty to adopt already.
"Wicked" trying to escape the bathroom. We tamed her down and kept her, but she refuses to come in the house. Instead, she lives under the neighbor's shed and comes home for food and lovies.

Thanks for letting me rant and remember -Spay and Neuter Your Pet!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Magic in Our Methods

I was reading a letter from a fellow artist a while ago and she was expressing the emotions she puts into her beadwork. She said that each piece holds feelings of peace and inspiration. Yeah! I get that. Sometimes I get so involved in beading that it's almost trance-like. I feel very peaceful and joyful. The endorphins have kicked in. I am in my Zen.
So do those feelings transfer to the new owner of the piece when it is sold? I think so. I have had pieces that I have bought from other artists and some have wonderful feelings attached, some are gloomy, and some make me agitated. Is this what the makers were feeling when they made them? If so, should I be charging extra for the calming vibes of my beadwork? Of course not. But it is nice to know that I am sharing some calm and peace with my customers, whether they are tuned into it or not.
So how about you? Do you have a certain emotion that sets in when you do your art? Or is it different with each piece. Is a disturbing painting disturbing because of it's visual value, or because the painter was filled with angst as he painted it? I'd love to hear from you about your thoughts on this. Do you get "vibes" from art? And do you think it's from your relationship with the piece or the maker's? Or both?
So sorry again for my tardiness in picking a winner for the Give-Away. June's Give-Away recipient is..... LOIS MOON! Send me your mailing address, Lois, and I will get your brooch in the mail to you pronto.
Since my summer is a bit hectic and I haven't had as much time to blog as I'd like. I am going to take a bit of a break. I'll still write a little something now and then, but I'm curtailing the Give-Aways until the beginning of the Fall/Winter season. But I'll make it up by making my first return Give-Away a doozy. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I am Bad, Bad, Bad!

Oh I am a bad girl! I have lots of excuses, but I really should have updated this blog LONG ago. So sorry. Here it is almost the end of June and I just picked the winner of May's Give-away. And she is...
ROBERTA WARSHAW from Roberta Warshaw Artisan Jewelry. My apologies, Roberta for this late delivery. Please send me your mailing address and I'll get your brooch sent pronto!
So what has been keeping me from my keyboard? Well, you probably read about my mom's death. And then there was the funeral (I arranged all of the flowers including a huge casket piece of lilies). And I have been spending more time with my Dad to help him transition into living alone. And I trapped (humanely) 3 little feral kittens at his house so he doesn't have to deal with an eventual cat population explosion.  Afore mentioned kittens are now living temporarily in my bathroom as I play "Kitten Whisperer" and get them tamed down so they can be adopted out. I have myriad scratches and gouges and two pretty nasty bites, but I'm making headway. They will let me pet them now, but only one has condescended to be picked up without a fight. I have to give major kudos to my poor husband who REALLY didn't want feral kittens living in the bathroom (again!), but who has patiently let me have my way because I'm a cat woman.
I have also started selling at our local Saturday Market - A fabulously creative and magical market here in Eugene. I sell my beaded brooches and my sugar skulls and some charms I made and some beaded hairpins. I have made some wonderful friends, especially my boothmate, Cheri, who has taken me under her wing and helped me get started in the market. Cheri makes irresistable earrings out of recycled bottles. Her business is called "Boozy Baubles" and you can buy "Beer Baubles", "Wine Baubles" or "Liquor Baubles" as well as her totally awesome "Cola Baubles".  Check out her entire Etsy Shop here.
I've been beading every chance I get. I'm going to my Beading Circle again which has many great beady friends to connect with. And I've made friends with some beaders at the Saturday Market and have traded for some wonderful pieces.
So - all in all- I feel like I am getting back to my comfortable life and promise to keep up on this blog!
I will leave you with a picture of June's Give-away.  Just follow this blog and leave a comment to earn a chance to win!
Up for grabs!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Participating in My Mother's Journey

My mother, Hilda in 1940

I know I haven't been around much these past weeks (Thank You, Leanne, for noticing). My mother was diagnosed a few months back with lung cancer and she had a long, strange journey to go through before she finally passed away last night.
 She started off angry. When the doctor gave her 4-6 months to live, she said she felt like he had given her a death sentence. I had to remind her that none of us get out alive and she had 80 good years to show for the life she had. She said her doctor was still a "s#%t head".  But she eventually accepted it and tried to keep a good sense of humor through the pain that she felt. She told me that she wanted to be buried with her wedding rings still on ("check to make sure the mortician doesn't steal them") and that she wanted to be dressed in comfortable clothing, "even if it wasn't dressy".
My niece is getting married tomorrow on the other side of the world in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mom wanted to go to the wedding in the worst possible way, but knew she couldn't. She said that the only way she'd see the wedding is if she died beforehand so her spirit could be there. Last night when I called to tell my sister that Mom was gone, I told her to keep watch tomorrow at the wedding in her garden, because Mom was on her way and would be there.
I spent the last three days with her. My sister-in-law and another niece were here to help, but it was mostly my duty to administer her morphine every hour around the clock. At night I'd fall asleep and wake up exactly an hour later, without the aid of an alarm clock, give her her morphine and then fall back asleep in the chair beside her  - to wake up an hour later and repeat the process. The rest of the time I'd talk to her and hold her hand or sit next to her working on a beadwork project. She had the luxury of dying at home and in her last hours she roused a little to tell us all she loved us before she wandered off again and began talking to her mama who had died almost 50 years ago.
My dad is feeling a bit empty now and I'm staying with him for a few more days until he adjusts to being alone. His cat is a comfort for him and he has friends that he talks with on the computer. My brother lives next door, so I know he'll be watched over when I'm not here.
My mother and I didn't always see eye to eye. She was a strong personality and had very firm ideas on religion and politics that I didn't always share. But I'm glad I was able to take this journey with her and see her off into the next world. And I'm sure that I'll probably get a glimpse of her in my own garden someday soon.
My sister, Kathy, came from South Africa right after my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. This picture was taken just before she left to go home - Dad, Mom and Kath on the front porch.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Be Afraid....BTW

I don't often do Bead Table Wednesdays because I'm not an organized person. But thought I would bare myself to your judgements today by showing you EXACTLY what my bead table usually looks like on Wednesdays and any other day of the week.

Here it is. I didn't move a thing, try to tidy up or even spray air freshener. It is pure chaos, but that's what gets my creative juices flowing. Notice my little feline muse (Arachne) sleeping in the corner of Grandma's table.

These are some pieces I'm working on just now. The Butterfly will be a necklace, The watch with wings will be a brooch, and the Queen Bee surrounded by flowers is the centerpiece for a "Celebration of the Bees" necklace that I'm making for my friend Jana who is a beekeeper and friend to the little sisters in our gardens.

This purple piece is a work in progress. Not sure yet if it will be a pendant brooch, or a necklace. The fairy will be the centerpiece for a very dainty necklace. The armadillo is just there to keep me company.

Oops! Looks like the flash and click of the camera awoke our little Princess. She is NOT amused.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Winner and Some Beadies

Congratulations to WOL at the Owl Underground for winning the April Give-Away Brooch (pictured below). I especially like this little brooch and have one similar that I wear when I meet friends for coffee.

Sooooo....What shall I give away for May? Let me rummage around here in the secret Beady Chest for a moment.....Aha! Here's something I hope you will all like.
This little Kokopeli is adorned with beads in coral and russett with a matte black and white checkerboard around it. This is what's up for grabs in the month of May. So leave a comment and follow this blog to be in the running for it.

I participated in a Spring Jewelry Show last week-end (3 days) and took my beading with me to pass the time between customers and to show people how I create these little morsels. I had been beading non-stop for the show and got a number of pieces made during the show as well, so I'm pretty flush with brooches. I'm loading some on my Etsy shop and taking some to the gallery and the shops where I sell.
Here are some that I still have locally.
This one is made from one of Nan Emmett's fab cabs.

The keys and my Sugar Skulls are my best sellers.

This one is made from a vintage button and some yummy bright olive beads.

I have a thing for owls.

I love the colors in this Sugar Skull. I sell a lot of these and get many comments. People either love them or hate them.

 If you want to see more, visit my shop HERE.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Invitation

I'm inviting you all to the Royal Wedding. I'm sure they won't mind if I bring along a few extra guests. But to get in, you will have to play along with  some clever subterfuge. This invitation has been extended to me by my friend at Kit and Kaboodle, via
In order to attend you need to:

1. Award yourself the title of either Lord or Lady.

2. Use the first name of one of your grandparents.

3. Take the name of your first ever pet and double barrel it with the name of the street or road you grew up on, then string them together to come up with your guest moniker.

So practice your curtsies and bows and deck yourselves up - Oh, and let me know what name I need to sneak onto the guest list for you.
Cheerio, Ta Ta, and all that...
Lady Flora Taffy-Sprague

Monday, April 25, 2011

Coburg Stash

Not far from where I live is a delightful little town named Coburg. It has streets lined with ancient trees and quaint little shops. Over the years it has become a Mecca for antiques dealers and there are many, many shops there filled to the brim with all things old, charming, and handmade.

This week-end (April 28-30), my friend Janice at Primrose Lane, is hosting a huge assortment of vendors selling antiques, vintage goods and clothing, garden art and fine, handcrafted jewelry. I have been invited and have been busy beading my little brooches. Here is a sampling of some of them.

The show is Thursday (Noon-6), Friday (10-6) and Saturday (10-6) in Coburg, Oregon, just north of Eugene. It is held at the Coburg Grange and the IOOF Hall (across the street from each other). Parking is shared with the Dari-Mart. Can't miss it, this is a tiny little town. Hope you can make it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Arachne and the Squirrel

We have a lot of wildlife around our house and I delight in hanging feeders and birdhouses in the trees. But the squirrels have a habit of taking them over. So I hung some feeders outside my studio windows, thinking that they would be unreachable by the squirrels.
Arachne has a great time sitting in her bed and watching the birds.

But this morning, the clever little squirrel was sitting atop the air conditioner and made his way on the window sill to the feeder.

The squirrel never made it onto the feeder. I think he was a bit intimidated by Arachne staring at him through the glass. My Sweety went out and put some peanuts in the tree feeder for the squirrel, so hopefully he'll leave this feeder alone.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mini Skulls and Snuggly Parking Meters

Decided to make some Sugar Skulls in tiny size 15 seed beads. I really like them more than the big ones and they seem to be popular. Here's a couple of them. They are only 1.5 iches.

You can get them (and bigger ones in size 11 beads) at my Etsy shop here.

I also saw something that I thought was very creative - not a stretch for a crazy great town like Eugene - Sweaters for the Parking Meters!

In other issues - my mom is on a steroid now and is breathing much better and has lots of energy. My sister is on her way back to South Africa after a 3 week visit here. The sun is shining and I'm on my way outside to plant some violets that I brought back from my parent's house. Hope you are all enjoying spring.