Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring in Aloha, Oregon

These are a few garden shots from my yard right now. From left to right: the Hellebore are out back under a big old rhodie, the mini yellow daffodils with a couple of remaining purple crocus are near the upper end of the waterfall into our pond out back under the famous filbert tree, and the pot of bright spring bulbs by the lamp is on the walkway up to our front door. Spring is rather delayed here this year because we had such a long cold winter with lots of snow, and rather late into the season too. In other words, real winter! (And Dale and I loved every minute of it!) Sooo, the bloom cycle is all happening rather later than usual, but each day brings new wonder in my gardens. The daffodils open a bit more, the crocus fade a bit more, the columbine is coming up, as are my bleeding hearts, the forsythia is blooming, the huge old daphne by the front door smells spectacular and is just passing the best of its bloom. This past week I was at the Portland Japanese Gardens, (where I am now a Photographer Member) hoping that a particular bush was in full bloom, so that I could work on trying to create another one of my bizarre reflections shots. And I was rewarded with near perfect conditions and an almost empty garden. Several of the shots show promise, so I'm a happy camper! Especially since the weather should be rather gross and Oregon-like for the next week or so. Not great for photography. I'll have to settle for watching the flowers and birds in my own yard, which really isn't so bad.... The dogs are loving the sunny weather when we get it, and they search out the sunny spots in the house to lie down in. Shadow particularly loves to go park himself outside in the cul-de-sac near the end of our driveway. He gets dappled sunlight there from our huge maple, and it's a great place from which to guard his turf and watch all of the comings and goings in the area. I can put him on a 'down, stay' and know that he'll be there when next I check on him, or at a door whining to come in. The rufous hummers have started arriving, so our Anna's hummers will soon be heading for the coast. And all three of our hummer feeders are seeing a lot action these days. Food fight! They don't share very well. Several days ago I saw the most bizarre thing at our front yard hummer feeder. An Anna's was eating, with its back to me, so I couldn't sex the little bugger. Then a big male Anna's came driving in and they both tumbled to the ground in my garden, and just sat there, on the ground, not moving, just facing off, like Dr. Seuss' north going zax and south going zax. Why, I spy the sun! Right outside in my very own yard! I think I shall go stand in it while I still can!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Recent Jewelry Productions

This is the beginning of another beaded collar, true white this time, rather than the ivory color I used last time. Perhaps I'll call it White Wedding 1. The flowers are made from white oval cat's eye cabochons, with round Swarovski crystals in the center. The center crystals and the second row of edging beads around the flowers have an AB finish (aurora borealis that is) to add just a touch of color and sparkle and pizzazz to the piece, without overdoing it. The background will be entirely done in a different white bead that is semi-opaque and visually very different from the beads used in the flowers, leaves, and vines. I want the background to support and enhance the overall design without being a distraction. This is going to be a challenging piece to get a good photo of, so I guess it will be a learning opportunity for my photography as well!
I'm also working on another piece for the Copper Collection. This one is a heart, and I'm not sure if it will end up being another brooch/pin, or the center of a necklace. And since a friend of mine mentioned that she wasn't crazy about the contrast of the white background showing through (as in the original brooch), I dyed this piece of backing with coffee, to tone down the white. I see advantages to both background colors, so I guess I'll just keep taking a survey of how many folks like one and how many the other.
And then I decided I should enter the next Fire Mountain Gems (my favorite online bead shop by far!)beading contest, and perhaps the "Bead and Button" magazine contest as well. It would be good exposure if I do well. And, I do know of other Etsy beading artists that have entered these competitions, because I've drooled over their work before! They're the ones that got me intrigued enough to try my own hand at these extensively beaded creations. So, it's time for me to jump in to the pool and see if I can keep up with the big kids!
I'll have photos soon of these newer projects for you to check out. And now I'm going back to White Wedding 1.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Cat Eats Oatmeal

So there I was about 8 a.m. this morning, in my spot on the couch, with my heating pad and blankie, eye drops in, and of course, my coffee. And there was my husband, eating his daily oatmeal with dried blueberries and cranberries. The dogs were looking on eagerly, waiting for the last little bit, which they knew would come their way. And recently, our fuzzy, gray, part Persian cat, Smokey, has been showing signs of interest in that oatmeal. Now, you can't really take a cat's interest in oatmeal too seriously if you ask me. Can you? But what do I know? My husband offered him the 'sauce' in the bottom of his bowl and Smokey lapped it up with gusto! Then my husband offered him the spoon, which still had a few bits of oats on it, and he ate that too! Go figure............ Now, Smokey is not our only cat with bizarre food tastes. Delilah, my younger son's calico cat, won't eat anything except her regular old dry Purina Cat Chow. We've tried all kinds of other foods, those meant for animal consumption and those meant for human consumption. And until recently, the only other food she had eaten except for her regular stuff, was pumpkin bread. And she truly porked out on the pumpkin bread that Thanksgiving; this was no one-time occurrence! And then last week I offered her one of my homemade Snickerdoodle cookies. She sniffed the cookie, and then proceeded to take the largest, most unladylike bites off of my cookie that I have ever seen! As she was literally gulping it down as fast as possible, it occurred to me that perhaps her little cat tummy might have had enough. And I yanked it away from her while there was still some cookie left! And then there is our third beastie kitty, Delilah's brother Samson. Samson is really 'into' the meat in Taco Bell tacos. And he expects his fair share when the humans are done eating, and it's time for the dog to get their treats. (OK, he thinks he thinks he's a dog....) And if you forget to save him some, then you get his ultimate display of dissatisfaction. He sits on top of the refrigerator and glares at you with the most obvious F_ _ _ YOU look I've ever seen on a cat's face! And if you understand that one, clue me in too!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stinking Squirrel!

Today was one of those gorgeous days when I know exactly why I live here in Oregon. It was sunny and warm, blue skies... the perfect day to do some more late winter garden clean-up. I dead-headed my Autumn Joy Sedum and Lacecap Hydrangea, gave some dwarf pines a gentle haircut, cleaned up the heuchera.... In a word, heaven! Then later on in the afternoon, as I was puttering around the house, I noticed our cat Samson moving like he was watching something and ready to pounce. I looked out back and spied a squirrel, who was in the process of grabbing a flower off my Hellebore, and beginning to eat the delicacy! I was totally flabergasted. I'm sure I had steam coming out my ears. Now, I've seen squirrels eat my tulip bulbs shortly after being planted, but the first flowers of the year? I think not! That was when I hollered, "Stuie! Want to go chase a squirrel?" And like a bat out of hell, there Stuie was, raring to go after that stinkin' squirrel. And the squirrel then proceeded to run like crazy, up the Filbert tree, with my Hellebore flower in his mouth! All I can say is, "STINKIN" SQUIRREL!"

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Recent Jewelry Productions

I had so many photos of my recent jewely, that I decided to play around with Picasa's collage function to see what that would do. It's actually very versatile and user-friendly for those of you out there who might want to play around with it sometime. In the above collage is a picture of my first beaded collar(center left) without the clasp. Then you have pieces in my new Copper Collection, as well as my second beaded collar, done entirely in ivory-colored beads. I'm thinking this might make a nice wedding piece. So, how many hours did I spend sewing little, bitty ivory-colored beads and fresh water rice pearls around the mother of pearl cabochons? At least 300 hours !!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


As I sat staring at my blog photo, wondering where to begin, it suddenly came to me. The big dog sitting beside me might be a good place! That is my buddy Shadow, Cedarhollow's Moon Shadow to be exact. He is an 8 1/2 year old brindle mastiff. He stands about 34 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 160 pounds, which actually makes him a rather skinny mastiff, honest. But oh, he is one wonderful boy: smart, well-trained (honest), beautiful disposition, loves people, makes a great early-warning system and doorbell, fetches you when the timer on the kitchen stove goes off or the teapot whistles, chases 'ugly birds' aka starlings, is the chief of our household 'cat police squad' and loves to chase 'bad kitties', sheds one hair at a time all of the time, slimes up everything pretty nicely so we have white towels all over the house to use as 'slobber rags'..... But he'll do darn near anything I ask of him, including standing still while I grab onto him to haul myself out of the bean patch, which I fell into butt first, or simply standing by my side looking mean and ugly at whomever is going door to door on our cul-de-sac. I love it when folks just stop, wave, and go on to the next house...

Our other dog is a 17 pound, fuzzy, white 'designer dog' named Stuie, which is short for Stuart Little. He adopted us almost three years ago, shortly after my father died. He was my 'solace dog'; the only thing that could make me smile at that point in time. He literally showed up on our doorstep and wouldn't leave, and believe me I tried! I like big dogs; I grew up with horses; I have cats bigger than he is! And now I love small dogs too!

Sometime I will tell you all about our trio of cats: Samson, Delilah, and Smokey.

Keep on keepin' on!