Last Week's Excitement

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I didn't post much anywhere about anything last week because I was afraid I would spill the beans too soon.  

Bryan was released as the Branch president of our congregation yesterday.  We've been grinning for well over a week about this event.  We've been so overwhelmed the past year with both the houses and Bry's career frustrations and he has been so concerned that he do a good job of ministering to the people we love so much in our Branch - it truly has been a heavy burden for him.  His posture and his face have changed remarkably since last Friday when we learned that he was to be released and given a new assignment.  I won't say anything about that yet except that it probably won't be as demanding and might even be a bit more fun.  (For all you jokesters in the branch - No.  He is NOT replacing President Jones in the Mission Presidency.)  The transition in the Branch will be smooth since one of Bry's counselors, Ben Pykles,  has been called as the new Branch president and he is keeping Rich Tenace, Bry's other counselor on board.  Jeff Francom, the new second counselor, is a fairly recent transplant to Potsdam, but he and his family are awesome - we've got a great team to lead us. 

Everything seems to be happening very quickly this spring - everything except progress at the Beorningstead, though that will probably go more quickly now.   The lilacs are getting ready to bloom and the fiddleheads are getting ready to open in my yard.  

This is NOT good. 

Elsewhere spring is coming a few days early and speeding up each year but this year, we're about 3 weeks ahead. 

The high temperature spikes we had in March and early April pushed things forward too quickly which may have unhappy consequences this fall and next year - trees, shrubs and perennials are blooming too early for their natural pollinators to show up, which could result in lower crop yields, higher prices and less food for wildlife.  Plants - especially trees, are sucking too much moisture out of the ground too early, resulting in drought and stressing the plants which can reduce Maple Syrup production again next year.  The season was cut short this year by those 80 degree days that convinced the trees to start leafing out early.   The greening is happening rapidly in the forests - those soft, lacy reds and green of early May are already done and here at the end of April, we look to be entering June any day now.  What will these stressed forests look like in August?

I worry a lot about weather and rainfall here in my Native North Country lately. 

In the midst of all this ecological and spiritual activity, I've been making my own blossoms. 

I have some tiny apple blossoms in pink and green. 

I've perfected the large Daisy.

And made a few spacer beads that can be placed between the flowers so that they hang better on a choker or other chain. 

More gorgeous colors coming soon - as soon as that Tax return gets here!  I may also put a few kits up in my Etsy and ArtFire shops later  this spring if I ever get around to writing instructions up.  Give me a shout if you would like me to e-mail you when I get instructions and/or kits ready!

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Leather and Pearls Bracelet Class

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We had a great class last night - I had 4 wonderful students who caught on to the project quickly.  We had very few tangles and snags and everyone finished their bracelet before the end of class.  We did have to pound a pearl with an iron to get it to release a stuck needle, but it turned out O.K. in the end.

I spent most of the day yesterday creating an instruction booklet for class.  I'm getting better at those.  For this one, I actually took photos of the process and created a PDF file with PrimoPDF so that I could print the instructions quickly from home or the Arts Council or just about anywhere without having to mess around with slow copiers or software incompatibility. 

I'd like to work on an instruction manual for my Daisies and put kits for them in my shops.  I'm waiting on new colors of daggers to make kits but I could probably start on instructions now.  In the meantime - here is my PDF instruction book for Leather and Pearls Bracelet.  Let me know what you think - but not about my hands.  Yes, I know they are getting old and I really need a manicure before I attempt to photograph myself doing beadwork again.

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Vacation Week

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I'm almost sad to see it go.  Bry had to go back to school today - even though only one district is in session and he will only have two students today - if they don't decide to skip.  The kids are home for another day and back to school tomorrow.  (I wish I could have sent the kids today and kept Bry home another day.  I'm sorta Maxxed out.)

We did have a nice break, though.  Bry got some time to work at the Beorningstead (more on that later this week) and we had a short Spring Holiday over there with my sister and my nephew, Derek.  Bry & I visited the Edward Burne-Jones exhibit in Ottawa (hurry - it closes this Saturday) and we made a quick trip to visit my sister in conjunction with a Youth Temple Trip to Palmyra. 

I did not get pictures of any of this - my first purchase with the tax return will be a new family camera.

 Anyway- we did lots of fun stuff all in one week and none of it was very expensive. 


It turns out that Maxx is NOT a good little traveler.  Molly has always been great.  When she was small, she would happily climb in the car and amuse herself by coloring in a book, reading and singing along to music.  For hours.  She sleeps a lot in the car.  She would occasionally ask the classic "Are we there yet?" question - not out of boredom, but out of excitement to arrive.   Now that she's older, she may ask once or twice how much further we have to go but she's more likely to repeatedly ask if we can gag and hog-tie her brother for the rest of the trip.

Maxx begins whining after about 20 minutes in the car.  He wriggles out of his seatbelt.  He tries to open the door or windows and complains about the child safety lock and power window lock.  He picks fights with his sister.  He throws things.  He would throw things out of the window if he could open it.  He complains that he can't throw things out of the car because he can't open the window.  He wants to carry on endless, inane, repetitive conversations in a muted whiny tone of voice that can't be heard over the road noise.  He does not sleep until approximately 3 minutes before we arrive at a destination or a pit stop.  He wakes up as soon as the speed or direction of the car changes, whining and demanding to know whether we're there yet and adamantly refusing to admit that he needs to pee.

Last night I made up a new family rule for travel.  After 9pm children in the car must be SILENT.   I'm also wondering if we will need to invest in a travel DVD player for him.  I hate the idea of TV in the car but the three older family members LOVE to travel together.  Maxx is just plain unpleasant in the car without (and even sometimes with) constant distraction and interaction and that takes all the joy out of a road trip.  We have lots of family we want to visit - they may just have to move closer.  4 hours seems to be my limit with Maxx.

More on Socks and something sad about Giraffes

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Like most people I know, I have fantasized about what I would do with a million dollars.  My most common response is that (after paying off all debts and taking a fun trip or two)  I would go out every two weeks and buy 14 pair of socks for everyone in the house and Never Wash Socks Again.

Done with your socks, Maxx?  Put them in the trash.

ahhhh.  What bliss that would be.

Turns out, that is what a lot of my husband's students do.   But they aren't millionaires.  They are on welfare.

I don't know whether it is a problem with laziness or if they don't have access to a washing machine or if they just need to spend that stipend every month and nothing is perceived as valuable enough to care for but some of them just don't do laundry.  Ever.

They wear new clothes until they get a stain or start to be too smelly and then throw them away.

The school districts in the area didn't use up all of their snow days this year so each district scheduled several "give back" days around Spring Break and Easter Weekend this year.  Because they don't coordinate those give back days through the BOCES calendar, Bry had several days last week where only one or two students were in his class.  That makes it hard to cover new curriculum so he decided to show an anthro film about Kalahari bushmen.   His has been dragging his students through A Green History of the World this year (man - I miss homeschool) and they have been reading about the demise of aboriginal hunter-gatherer cultures in the face of industrialization and globalization.  The film showed a group of bushmen hunting a giraffe.

One of his students watched with fascination for a while and then said
"Is that a giraffe?  Is it a real giraffe?"  And a conversation about giraffes ensued.  The student was awed and excited and really engaged.

She thought giraffes were imaginary creatures.  She had never been to a zoo.  She had never even watched Kratt's Kreatures or any other nature program that might have taught her something about Africa's mega fauna. 


She's one of his brighter students - not handicapped in any biological way - but raised in a home where the school and the state are enemies instead of allies.  School is something that you push yourself through because if you drop out, your social worker stops by to find out why.   Bry thinks that this girl has the capacity to overcome that system if she wanted to.  She's smart enough to get herself a real education if she were motivated.  She's tough enough to hold down  real job if there was anything she wanted to do badly enough.  But at 18, her life is all about which neighborhood rival is going to be waiting to fight with her when she gets home or how she's going to get her next buzz.   She has no joy in learning, she has no idea how many really interesting career possibilities are out there in the world right now, she doesn't even know how to wash socks.

She has 6 siblings who have grown up exactly the same way. 

It's called "culture of poverty" and it is rampant in upstate NY.   We really need more money in education for field trips to see giraffes and art museums and participate in revolutionary programs that take the kids out of their poverty based surroundings for a little while and let them experience the world in a more engaging way.   We need teachers who are trained to work with the families of these students to help education become a priority instead of a welfare requirement.

Yes, it's hard.  Yes, it's expensive.  Yes, I know that this is a very simplified, one dimensional view of a deeply entrenched, complex sub-culture.  (I was an anthro major, after all.)  But I really have to wonder if this young woman would be training to become a zoo-keeper or a veterinarian or a zoologist or an artist or a teacher if only she had learned that giraffes were real in time. 

Instead, she's probably going to become a welfare mom sometime soon.  Her kids won't learn how to wash socks, either.  I hope they get to see a giraffe.

On a happer note - my taxes are done.  I think I spent about 20 hours all told.  I don't think I can bill the government for that time but Earned Income Credit is going to buy a lot of groceries this summer.  Next year I am getting an accountant to do this for us because I don't know how to tell the IRS that we didn't use the truck for business purposes this year because everyone was too lazy to get their garbage out of their falling-down barns so my husband could disassemble them but he paid worker's comp insurance anyway because all year he thought he might get a job any minute now and would need to re-hire his employee but then the truck wouldn't pass inspection so it sat in the yard all summer and we finally sold it this February. 

If they audit us, I'll just direct the tax guy to this blog entry.  And hand him a big box of papers to sort through.

New Colors!

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I have some gorgeous new colors for my Dragonflies and other enameled brass piece in my shops this spring!
There's Mossy

and Saffron

and Shimmery Copper

and Shimmery Fuchsia.

They are in my Etsy shop now but ArtFire will have to wait 'till Friday.  Allergy boy is home today so I can monitor his breathing - snot rocket, big cough, poor peak flow - nebulizer treatments all day.  I love spring.

Oh yeah - and I neeeed to have one of these cameras someday.  We had a Polaroid when I was a kid and I was so sad to hear that they discontinued their instant cameras.  Now Fuji is picking up that market with a teeneency camera that prints teeneency pictures.  What fun!

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A Rambling Rant

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Allow me to say a few words about socks. 

I hate socks.  I wear them.  I enjoy wearing them.  They keep my feet warm and prevent my shoes from stinking.  But I hate being responsible for them.  Especially Maxx's.

With all of the socks Maxx owns, one would think that I could easily find a pair that reasonably matches.  No - I am not OCD about two socks needing to have exactly the same degree of grey-ness or stainage, but Maxx and I do insist that the socks be about  the same length & thickness and have the same sort of toe seam. 

It would help if he would remove his socks in the same place.  I don't necessarily mean removing both of  his socks in the same place every day - I mean removing both of his socks at the same time and place on any given day.  His normal mode is to come home and kick his boots off - one usually goes in one direction while the other flies off into the opposite room.  Eventually he takes one sock off.  He travels about a bit, indoors and out.  Then he takes the other sock off.  I have not done any studies about which sock he tends to remove first.  I'm not sure that would help. 

Sooner or later both socks end up in the laundry.  But not necessarily in the same load.  Not even necessarily in the same week.

Not 8 weeks ago, I bought him some little black socks, - 6 pair, 12 total -  thinking this would make it easier to find him a pair in the sock basket.  Can I find more than one of those socks at any given time? 


I can find any number of grayed white socks with holes in the bottom, but only one of the new black socks.  Sigh.

I have some mesh laundry bags I my Amazon shopping cart.  (Why can't I find these things when I go shopping in a real store?  Why must I pay shipping for them?  Should I just go to JoAnne Fabrics and buy some mesh to make my own bags?)   

I think that if I had 4 mesh laundry bags, everyone could be responsible for putting their own socks in their own laundry sack (or I could go around the house of a laundry day and gather up all manner of socks, placing them each in their designated bag) - wash the whole sack at once and then I would not have to sort socks anymore.   When children (and husbands) whine for socks, I could just chuck a mesh bag full of socks at them and make them choose a pair for themselves.

I may be delusional.

But I am reluctant to push the buy button because my Etsy shops are dead.  (And because I have several other things in my shopping cart.)  Very few sales this past week - just enough to pay my Etsy bill.  I am becoming disgruntled but am loathe to murmur about it too much, lest the Etsy Gods take vengeance.  Perhaps they already have and this is why my shops are dead.

Oh, how I wish people would learn to shop on ArtFire.

Meanwhile it is 49 degrees and raining outside.  The rain is O.K.,  I suppose the 49 degrees is really not all that bad - but it has, in general, been too warm.  My lilacs look like this. 

They should not look like this until May.  They are at least 3 weeks ahead of schedule - along with every other growing thing right now. 

Craziness.  We could still get a blizzard - or an ice storm - or at least a very heavy frost - and then where would my blossoms be? 

Blighted, that's where. 

Curse you, Global Warming and Climate Change!

While I'm cursing people, I shouldn't forget our dear Governor Patterson who now intends to lay off all the construction workers in NYS, along with the over 150,000 teachers across the state who are slated to lose their jobs come June.  That will be a nice change for our laborers - a big summer vacation.  It will be handy for NYS too, considering that they have been on the job just long enough to cause their unemployment to expire but not long enough to earn another round. 


At least the Arts Council is making progress.  New classroom spaces in Old Snell Hall  - Dance Classes coming right up!  I hope someone will be able to afford them.

Keep yer socks on.  I'm off to do laundry.

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Embroidery during Conference

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We attended Conference at the Chapel this weekend.  Sometimes, we watch the Saturday sessions at home but this spring, we knew it would be too much of a temptation to go over and work on the Beorningstead in the beautiful weather - 89 degrees.  (That's just wrong, by the way.  That's mid-July weather, not April.)

So I worked on some embroidery.

Remember this post?  I've gotten this far.  I'm making grape leaves for a multi-dimensional embroidery piece that I will probably finish sometime in 2050.  I got as far as tacking the wire down and whip-stitching the middle vein down.  The edges require some sort of buttonhole variation and I wasn't up to trying to parse the instructions for that stitch while also trying to hear what was happening in conference.  (Lots and lots of discussion about the importance of teaching children and strengthening our families.)

I have a sort of half-baked plan for this piece that is marginally related to the Beorningstead and Burnett Hollow.  The further I take it, the less pleased I am. It is a bit too iconic.  It started as a non-trad Asissi work piece.  I guess it's working as far as that goes.  The sky and ground are covered with hand dyed variegated cotton thread.  More embellishment is planned, I just need some bravery and a bit more time.  Maybe in October.  ;)   (Edit - May 3, 2010 - This weeks TAST 2 stitch is Cloud Filling.  I haven't had time for TAST the last few weeks but I was tickled to find that this week's challenge stitch is something I'm already familiar with!  I used Cloud Filling on the Peacock above - the green ground area is mostly that stitch.  You can find out more about TAST 2010 and see how to do Could Filling yourself at Pin Tangle.  Sharon is one of my fiber heroes.)

And I had a chance to try Portuguese Border Stitch from TAST 2.

I removed the unfortunate border I had here earlier and replaced it with  Portuguese Border with teeny seed beads tucked into the openings.    I'm not sure that it might not be a bit heavy-handed for this piece right here?

Maxx played ball between sessions and had fun playing with pattern blocks with Melanie.  He's convinced that he will marry her someday - just like all the other older girls who are nice to him.  (he's got good taste, though, all of his "girlfriends" are very sweet, intelligent and good with younger kids.)

Conference rarely falls on Easter.  To make the day more special, the branch had a Ham dinner with potluck between sessions.  Then we visited Meemo in the evening.  The Easter Bunny has agreed to visit over Spring Break for a Spring Holiday event over at the grandparents.  More about that next week.  

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Free Shipping for Easter Weekend

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FreeShipping on all US orders of Jewelry or Scarves from my GoblinsMarket ArtFire shop over Easter Weekend! 

Click here to go to my shop.

I love ArtFire.  I can offer this sale there because they have a global product editor that allows up to change shipping profiles, % off prices and all manner of other nifty factiods in the blink of an eye.  (On Etsy, I would have to edit every single item individually and then process a refund through PayPal for every sale.  What a pain!)
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