Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Last Week of the Year

Whew! Christmas is over, and what a whirlwind the last couple of weeks have been. Here's a few random thoughts of what's been going on with me:

I started experimenting with polymer clay, and it's not as easy as I thought it would be. It's so totally different from metal clay, and even after watching videos and reading about it, I still don't have anything worthy to show. One thing I discovered was that I was just not using enough of the clay. It's not expensive, so I don't have to be stingy with it like I do with silver clay. Another thing I've discovered is that although there's a lot of information out there about polymer clay in general, there's not much about polymer clay jewelry specifically. Of what I have found, there's only a few people doing exquisite work. Most is cheap and cheezy looking. Liz Hall sure sets a high standard!

I went to Raleigh on Christmas Eve and spent it with my Dad, Sister and Brother-in-law. In the three years since my Mom passed away and my Dad sold the house we grew up in, we've been trying to keep traditions alive as best we can. We gather at a friend's house and cook standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding just like Mom did. It's always nice and we all get along fabulously, but it's just not the same without Mom. I got to see my step-son and his family while I was there, too. My two granddaughters just get bigger and more beautiful every time I see them.

On Christmas Day I drove up to Lynchburg, VA to spend time with my step-daughter's family. There was a huge snow storm predicted for most of NC and VA and I arrived just as it started coming down. They only got a couple of inches of snow in western Va - enough for her two boys to try out new sleds and snow boards - but the whole east coast got slammed, including Raleigh. I had originally planned to come home on Sunday, but knew that it was going to snow here at home so I extended it to Monday. Then I got word that there was a blizzard here, so I ended up staying until Tuesday and I was glad I did. The roads were clear and I got to spend more time with some fabulous people.

I ate lots good food, played many video and board games, and gave and received lots of nice gifts.

I decided to place an order for supplies today so that I could include it in this year's books. Silver is so freaking high that the total bill took my breath away and my poor credit card is groaning under the weight.

Etsy sales were good this holiday season, but there were a lot of glitches with shipping. I was offering free standard USPO shipping and a couple of packages didn't arrive. One was returned and had to be re-sent Priority Mail. I had to send out a replacement order for the other one. And, with the horrible weather, it was hard for me to get to the post office on time. I'll have to re-think this next year.

I have no plans for New Year's Eve. My neighbors will inform me that the year has turned over by setting off fireworks and shooting guns. I'll probably wake up, tell Lola happy new year, and go right back to sleep. I really don't like being out on the roads with a lot of drunks.

I now have a head cold (from being around a lot of people, especially children, I'm sure). And, as my grandpa used to say, a "hitch in my get-along" from sitting in the car too long. I'm ready to go back into hermit mode and get some jewelry made.

I hope you have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm a winner!

I entered a contest on Lorena Angulo's blog to win a book, and I DID! I'll be receiving the above book in the mail soon. She received a box of books for review from Lark Books and, since she already owned this one, she decided to give it away. I'm so excited to add it to my library. What a lucky girl I am! Thank you so much Lore!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bring on the light!!

Thank you for the free photo,

Happy Winter Solstice, everyone! This day brings me so much joy. To think about the days getting longer and warmer is a great relief. Summer Solstice is a bummer. Even though the weather is hot and gorgeous, that defeating emotions of summer coming to an end always makes me sad. Spring and Fall Equinoxes? Only a reminder that we're half way in to either more or less light.

There was a total eclipse of the moon last night also. I woke up, but it was too cloudy to see anything. Did you see it? Was it awesome?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Practicing calm and patience

Drawing by Toni Henneman
Our first big snow of the season started on Friday, December 3rd. For the next few days it never got above freezing. I stayed in the house until Thursday the 9th. We got more snow on the 12th. This time it was a blizzard and it didn't get out of the teens until the 14th. Then we had freezing rain on the 15th, this past Wednesday. I got out again yesterday. So that's 2 trips to town in 14 days and 12 days of being stuck in the house. I was going to go out again today because, even though it was supposed to be cloudy, it would be 36 degrees. Not. It never got above 27, and there was freezing fog, so I had to change plans. Again.

I'm not too suprised, and since Mercury is in retrograde (if you don't follow astrology, find an explanation here.) it means that re-scheduling is likely no matter what the weather is. In the last two weeks I've re-booked a Chiropractor appointment (twice), and a Vet appointment for Lola, traded gallery work days (twice) and cancelled a hair cut appointment.  What's that statement about "when man makes plans, God just laughs"? Or something like that.

Oh, and it's Holiday Season, too. So many people are totally stressed out buying gifts, partying and spending time with family, that to dump bad weather on top would seem like the last straw. I remember last year, so I got all my shopping done early and used part of my time in exile to wrap everything. I did have to bail on a holiday party tonight because as soon as the sun goes down the roads will re-freeze, but I don't seem to have any stress this year! Yet. I'll be waiting until about the 22nd or 23rd to freak out over whether I can get to Raleigh and Virginia to spend time with my family. I totally missed it last year because of an ice storm. Mercury doesn't go direct until the 30th... I'll be keeping my fingers crossed! Cross yours for me too, would ya?

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm trying to come up with something new

and keep myself from getting cabin fever. Silver has become so expensive that I've got to figure out a way to stay creative without going broke. I thought I'd try out polymer clay because its very inexpensive and my notion is that I could play with color and shape without using so much silver. I'm inspired by Liz Hall's silver and polymer work. See it here.

Most times when I want to learn about new methods or materials I'll either buy a book or take a class.  I knew that more bad weather was moving in and I'd be stuck in the house for awhile, so last Saturday I got a wild hair and took off for the local Michaels store and bought several colors of clay and a pasta machine. I've been looking at online instructional videos and websites and playing around with making canes and blends. As with any new endeavor, I work awhile, get frustrated and leave to play with cat, then go back to it again. Some successes and some failures, but none of it has been baked yet. I still have a lot of questions, and there's definitely nothing to show off yet.

Speaking of playing with the cat, Lola is so organized! She likes to have all her toys in one place. After a bout of flinging things all over the house, she'll eventually bring them all back to the living room in front of my chair. I've decided not to spend any more money on cat toys. The green string and home made fabric pouch of catnip are her favorites.

When I got up this morning it was 9 degrees and it only got up to a high of 12 degrees. The wind chill is -10. That's 10 BELOW ZERO. And, it's snowing sideways. I think this is called a blizzard! Appalachian State University was closed today, for only the third time I can remember. I have on two pair of socks and my feet are still cold. They're calling for an ice storm on Wednesday night and more snow on Sunday. I'm trying to stay positive, but it's really difficult.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Boring Weather Post

"Winter View From the Blue Ridge Parkway" by Marty Hulsebos.

Ick. I was really hoping that this winter would be better than last (which was the worst I can remember), but it's not starting out that way. And it's not even officially winter yet. I'm not taking any pictures of my yard because they look exactly like last year's pictures. Boring. It's been snow showering for 5 days. Not a lot of accumulation on this side of the mountains (6 inches or so), but much more as you go west and up in elevation. One of my friends has 16 inches of snow at her house. This morning it was 4 degrees when I got up. And windy.

I've been staying in the house, other than a walk to my neighbor's yesterday to check on their heat. They're in Florida until after the holidays. Wimps! Really, I have mixed feelings about being in warmer climates during weather like this. I would love to be wearing T-shirts and soaking up some sun, but I'd be too worried about my little house to enjoy it.

My days consist of checking the weather report for the next few days, consult the calendar to see if I have to be anywhere, comparing the two, deciding if I should change plans, figuring out when's the best time to try and get out of here to replenish supplies and finish Christmas shopping. Wondering if I'll be able to get to and home from the gallery when I'm scheduled to work. Congratulating the thermometer when it clicks up one more degree and rejoicing when there's a patch of blue sky.

There are a few orders that need to go out. I think, instead of waiting until I can get to the Post Office, I'll put every stamp I have on them and walk them up to the mailbox on the main road today to be picked up. I'm sure they'll get there on time.

So, if I'm quiet for the next little while it's because I don't want to bore you any more with my endurance of cabin fever. I think it's a good time to bake some cookies!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

First Snow of the Season

And possibly Lola's first snow. I don't know, since I have no idea how old she is. But probably her first snow. She didn't like it very much and after scattering the birds under the bird feeder, she came right back inside. This photo was taken yesterday morning and by afternoon there was 3 inches or so on the ground.

Today is bitter cold and windy. So windy that all of my trees look like Whomping Willows. Thank goodness I can stay inside by the fake fireplace. I don't HAVE to go anywhere until Wednesday. Hopefully by then, the Canadians will want their air back.