March 30, 2013

The Joy of Learning

It's been a long time since I took a class, but the opportunity arose, and I jumped at it! For several years I've wanted to take a Bead Embroidery class with one of the Big Four names in the field, but that's a tall order. Then one day it showed up on Facebook: Sherry Serafini (!!) was coming to teach here in Portland!!  I went through the necessary hoops, and got myself into one of the classes.

And ohhhh, it was worth it!  Taking a class just stimulates that part of the brain that loves new things. And it gets the creative juices flowing.  Plus, I'm a person who needs to learn from a teacher; books and manuals don't do it for me.  So, although I have Sherry's book, and I completely understood the process in theory, my few previous attempts have been laughable at best.  But now, with the expert guiding me, and giving us lots of tips and hints along the way, I got into the rhythm of it, and now I feel much more capable of actually DOING this stuff!  As I race to finish the project from the class, my mind is already racing with possibilities for future projects.

I really need to take classes more often. I love this feeling. I love feeling so driven to finish the project, that I can barely tear myself away from it.  It's kind of like when I was a new beader, and everything was new and exciting, and full of potential.  Learning is joyful!

Here's the project as designed for the class (but in a different color palette than my kit).

I didn't want the face, so I substituted my own red cabochon, and created a different pendant shape.
Here's the start in class.

After manic work on it, and with a few serious missteps along the way, the main beadwork is finished, the fabric trimmed, and the backing applied.

Edging is done, now working on the fringe.  I realize I haven't done anything with fringe in a very long time!  This also brings me back to my early days of beading. Fond memories....

Final steps: create the bail, construct "crowns," and add crystal accents.
It feels SO good to finish a project!

March 4, 2013

Prayer Beads

Back in October, after nearly 6 months of disability, I made a tentative return to beadwork. I had a big show coming up, and didn't have a lot of merchandise, so it was "go-time." One day I just sat down and made a necklace. Just grabbed the first beads that caught my fancy, and fiddled with them.  It was such a great feeling, like returning to the living. And when the necklace was done, I realized it was totally symbolic.

The beads were Tibetan prayer beads, accented with Bali silver bead-caps.  Prayer was certainly appropriate in my situation.  (And of course the word "bead" comes from the Latin word for prayer.) And, in order to keep them from wobbling on the thin wire (big holes in the  beads, small holes in the silver), there was an inside spine of smaller beads holding them steady. Just like in real life - you can't see what's inside, but it makes all the difference!

Well, I felt great coming back to life, and soon made a bunch of other necklaces. I didn't want to do much work with my usual tiny beads because (a) my hands weren't ready, and (b) I didn't have time before the show. So I just went ahead and made easy necklaces with large beads, and no regrets at all.

The show went well, I had fairly good sales, and mainly..... I'm back, baby!!!!

All Beginnings Are Hard

Years ago we considered adopting a second Pug as a companion for Nacho. Eventually we chickened out, but not before looking through a LOT of pet adoption sites.  During that process, I noticed there were so many elderly pugs who needed homes for their final years.  I told myself that when Nacho got old, we would adopt one of those older pugs.

So when I saw this picture on Facebook in January, I decided that it was time, now that Nacho is ten years old.  I contacted the Rescue organization, filled out forms, met the dog and her foster family, tried to get a feel for what this little girl was really like, and we took the leap.

I guess it should go without saying that nothing is ever exactly what you think it will be. Although the Rescue people and the foster family did their best to give us all the information they could, things were not as expected when Georgie moved in with us.  She's had a tough life, mostly spent in a cage, and mostly breeding. Her poor little body has a number of problems, and we were ready for that. But what couldn't be anticipated was her nervous reaction to Nacho, who is much bigger than she is.

The first few weeks were heart-wrenching, really not knowing if we could make this work. She's such a sweet little peanut, you just want to hold her and protect her.  But then, in an instant, she would attack Nacho, and it seemed grossly unfair to him. It broke my heart seeing him so sad and frightened, but at the same time I didn't want to give up on this poor little waif who needs a home.  We went through a roller-coaster of emotion, one day thinking it will work, and the next day certain that we'd made a terrible mistake.  A lot of soul-searching went on.

After 5 weeks we're still working on it, but things appear to be calming down. For one thing, we three humans have gotten better at preventing trouble between the two dogs. Georgie is getting used to the routines of our home.  And the two of them seem to be getting used to each other. This week Georgie will start a training class, which I think will really help her confidence.  Once she knows some of the commands that Nacho knows, we can play some games with them together; maybe they will bond. It will be a long time until I feel confident enough to leave them alone together, but for now we've worked out systems that allow me to leave the house safely without too much stress on them.

I think we're doing a good thing, and I wish I could explain it to Nacho.  I fervently hope this will grow to be a positive experience for him too.

March 3, 2013

Dog's Intuition

Jan 25, 2013  Portland, OR

I was at someone's home today with several friends. When the talk turned to an old acquaintance who is mortally ill, I got teary-eyed, and our host's dog instantly ran to me, demanding to be picked up! He barely knows me, but knew I needed a hug... incredible!

Spontaneous Camaraderie

Jan 19, 2013    Lexington, MA

Tonight was one of those unplanned delights. Three of us went down to hang out in the hotel lobby. As other guests who attended today's Bar Mitzvah came and went, they saw us and joined. Then Gershon's sister brought over some leftover food from the party, and someone ordered out pizza. The group got bigger and louder, several of us broke out the beads, while others played chess, and we all played Jewish Geography. We stayed till after midnight - talking, laughing, eating, drinking, sharing FB pages... what a blast!