Friday, November 28, 2014


Have you ever found yourself elbows deep in conversation with a complete stranger just seconds after meeting him or her?  A deep convo about spirituality, ownership of your truth and creativity, the bigger purpose of our lives, how certain landscapes make you feel immediately grounded and at peace?   I had one of those conversations last week at a small craft fair with an artist named Miani Carnevale.  She sells what everyone else would call jewelry.  She, however, refers to them as prayers.  "They call to people.  When they pick one up, they have to have it because it's meant to be theirs.  This isn't jewelry.  It takes me weeks to make these because I put prayers into the process.  Whomever needs them, finds them and has to have them."  Her prayers were made of natural materials, mostly.  Nuts, stones, glass, seeds, etc. strung on Irish linen cord.  Standing in front of her display - rocks, tree branches, feathers, natural fibers all surrounding and supporting the pieces - almost felt like coming upon debris in the desert that had somehow strung itself together to adorn and be worn.  Instant appreciation and a sense of natural connection is what I felt. 

We then talked about living in the west.  She described it as "a place so open and vast that one has to be honest and truthful.  There's just not room for anything else."  I love that.  I understand that.  I know what she says is true.  And boy do I miss those humungous spaces.  Where you drive for hours and are still looking at the same landmark or landscape or mountain range because it's just that open, a huge part of an even larger view.  I felt so relieved and relaxed and calm while talking to her.  I kept thinking that she gets it.  She verbalized what I was trying to say and what I've been feeling ever since we left the west.  I know in my soul that I simply need wide open spaces.  Big sky.  The ability to see for miles and miles and miles.  There is something incredibly freeing to be able to lock your eyes onto a monumental piece of geography in the distance and to move toward it, on a highway, at 70 miles an hour and have it STILL take you a few hours of driving to get close to it.  Or to stand on a mountain with a 360 degree view where you can't hear the sound of anything but wind, you're eye level with soaring raptors riding thermals and you can see changing weather en route that won't actually arrive for an hour or more.

I didn't buy one of her prayers although I was drawn specifically to two of them.  I may take a basket making class with her.  After all of the amazing people I've met on this planet, I'm still overwhelmed when I meet someone with whom I feel a lightening-quick bond.  Even if it lasts for only the length of one conversation, the effect can last for much longer in my thoughts.  I feel people like that have something to teach me.  Perhaps our meeting was meant to remind me of my love for the west and southwest, that my connection to that type of terrain lies deep within me and has nurtured me in the past.  I ought to pay attention to those memories and focus on ways to make new ones.

If you're interested in her art (she paints as well), you can view some pieces along with her bio and artist statement here.

If you'd like to read a quick article about her, you can do so here.
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We had our first NY winter storm, starting on Wednesday and leaning into Thursday.  We lost power for almost twenty-four hours which hampered our Thanksgiving cooking, but we made do.  So glad we brought our sleeping bags, camp stove & fuel, mess kits and head lamps with us as they all came in handy.  Here are some pics.  Snow just makes everything more beautiful, doesn't it?

Getting ready to make tea with the camp stove while Penny admired the snow.  It might be time to put the clothespins away until spring!

I love how hushed it feels after a fresh snow fall.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Wandering in the yard

We take our kitten for regular walks around our yard.  It seems to amuse folks biking, walking or driving by to see a cat on a leash, but we don't do this for the amusement of the neighborhood.  We do it primarily to give in to her caterwauling.  Spending any longer than say ten seconds in our kitchen encourages her to pace in front of the door that leads outdoors, walk over to her leash and harness to bat at them and even to put her paws on the doorknob, seemingly willing it to turn - all while meowing very, very loudly and repeatedly.  She simply loves to be outside.  This is where she gets to eat grass and sniff around for other creatures that pass through - our neighbor's cats, deer, critters that eat other critters and lots of berries based on their scat.  I swear she almost whispers "thank you" when we scoop her up and carry her inside after these explorations.  Or that could just be my imagination.

The lighting was just right this afternoon that I found myself noticing things I usually take for granted.

Here is a close up of the barn foundation from when this land was a pig farm.  I was thinking of writing down my worries, dreams, thoughts, what-have-you and tucking them in between the rocks like May did in The Secret Life of Bees.

feathery-topped plant stalks that must be nearly 8 or 9 feet tall, winter's leafless trees behind

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Daydreaming about Utah

side canyon in Zion N.P.

sunset in Capitol Reef N.P.
view from the top of the Moki Dugway - talk about wide open spaces!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

New beads and things

A few weekends ago, I went to a bead show in Albany (The Innovative Bead Expo) and found some beauties that simply had to come home with me.  Some gorgeous findings, dainty & colorful enameled pieces, and a gaggle of carefully chosen lampwork beads are now amongst my stash.  I keep looking at them and sketching designs in my mind  The truth will be in the pudding, as they say, when I actually use them to make some jewelry.  

I met some really lovely women at this bead show, artists and vendors alike, who were quite generous with their time and their energy.  It is so worthwhile to arrive early enough where truly engaging with the artists and purveyors is an option.  This is when I learn things, I notice trends, I can make a quick turn around the space in order to focus on who has the best stuff.  And it's also when I often get to chat about what I'm admiring.  It certainly can influence what I end up taking home and what I then create.  It can be an opportunity to find out what else that particular artist is up to.  Or it can be that dorky fan moment.  You know, when you actually get to meet someone whose work you've seen in magazines or on a blog.  When they are right there in front of you so you may tell them how amazing and talented they are.  I'm all about telling people how wonderful they are!  Why not?  Doesn't everyone want to hear praise?

These came from Kabela Design.  LOVED this booth.  I wanted to look at each and every piece Beth had to offer.  Check out her website:  You won't be disappointed, and she is authentically excited about her products.  I enjoyed meeting her.
These lovelies (and a few other sets) were found at Anne Lichtenstein's booth - Gardanne.  Her work is gorgeous, colorful and...precious is the word that comes to mind.  And she is lovely - kind,friendly and happy that I recognized her name from bead blogs and published designs.  I can't wait to turn these into something special.

These are all from pjBeads and were made by Patricia Dugmore (  She had bowls and bowls and bowls of beads to look through.  I could have been there all day, but she was busy and I had a spending limit.  The glass beads below came from her booth as well.  We talked about color combos and collecting beads.  She was fun.

Owlets.  Sweet little owlets.
These immediately made me think of Van Gogh's painting of blossoming almond trees.

This same weekend, I also got to spend some time with my family.  We needed to make plans for the upcoming holidays, and we just wanted to hang out.  There's nothing like reading the Sunday paper and perusing the sale fliers while eating breakfast and shooting the breeze with them.  Since my move back east, we haven't spent as much time together as we might like as we've all got busy lives and our own pursuits going on.  But being less than two hours away by car is a lot easier than being on opposite sides of the continent.  Next weekend, we'll get together again to celebrate some birthdays.  That should be fun.

Here is a necklace I made some time ago.  I had been thinking of changing out the stone donut, but I may keep it as is after all. There are so many fun beads in this piece - glass from Africa, wood, vintage glass, porcelain, Czech glass, seed beads, stone discs, faceted agate, etc.  I don't recall where I found that large chunk of turquoise used as the focal, but I've carried it in my pocket as a talisman of sorts a time or two.  I tend to do that with smooth stones.  I've been toting a thin disc of greenstone from a beach in Hokitika for a few years now.  It is a reminder of a country I love to visit and my connection to nature.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

"This Train Is Bound For Glory"

If this song doesn't get your toes tapping....well, then you're just not listening!  Or maybe you need to turn the volume up a bit.  This YouTube video always, always, always puts me in a good mood.  Without fail.  Makes me yearn to play an instrument.  If only I'd stuck with violin lessons in the third grade.  Sheesh.