Monday, December 20, 2010

Girl on a Wire

I've written before about my mother's overweight Houdini beagle, Bradley. Bradley's main goal in life is to escape through the fence in my mother's yard. Despite his corupulent size (he continues to find ways of sneaking food, despite my mother's efforts at putting him on a diet), he manages to wriggle through the smallest of gaps in a manner that would suggest he is actually half snake.

Nothing we do ever keeps him in for long. My mom went so far as to put dog-sized saddle bags on him, stuffed with tennis balls in an attempt to make him too bulky to wriggle free. This slowed him down until he figured out how to shed the saddlebags. So our next method of containment was to find every single Bradley-sized gap in the fence and fix it by using a layer of rabbit fence and lengths of rebar. This works in fixing each individual spot, but the problem is that my mother has 3 acres of land that slopes and is surrounded by woods. The undergrowth in some areas cannot be penetrated by anything larger than..well..a beagle. So his escape spots often go unfound because we simply cannot get to them.

My mother finally gave up on attempting to contain the dog, and simply walks him outside, in her fenced yard, on a leash. This is fairly successful during the nice sunny warm months, but right now when we're in the clutches of unusually cold weather, it's hard on her. Last week we had a small ice storm that coated the ground in a good inch thick layer of ice, and Mom simply couldn't do it. She has a number of health problems that make walking around on ice a very bad idea. She had to just let Bradley roam unattended in the yard, and hope that the ice was enough to keep him from escaping.

For two days, it worked. Bradley ran around outside, came in when called, and otherwise behaved himself. He was the model of good behavior during that time. Of course, like the ice, it did not last. It warmed up just enough on Saturday that everything started to thaw, and by that night it had thawed enough for him to make his escape.

The problem with that is the only remaining escape spots are along the side of the fence that runs down the length of a neighbor's horse pasture. The neighbor, by some miracle, has a fence that Bradley cannot escape through. He is also too stupid (his intelligence seems limited to figuring out ways of doing what he shouldn't) to figure out how to get back into the yard through the same way he got out, so when he discovered that he was trapped in the horse pasture, he began to wail in the way that only distressed beagles can. The neighbors were not home, and their pasture gate has a padlock on it, so getting him out that way was impossible.

So I had to go over to my mother's house at 7:30 PM and scale her side of the fence to get into the horse pasture. Luckily for me, there was a barrel located on the neighbor's side of the fence that allowed easy access for me, as the fence is tall and rather more of a drop than I care to make. So up the ice covered fence I went (getting snagged on the barbed wire top in the process, which took some time and wriggling to extract myself from), over the top and onto the barrel. The barrel, as it turned out, was there to block a rather large gap between the front of their fence and another neighbor's back yard. This gap also created a convenient spot to shove Bradley through, and was also luckily just wide enough for me to wriggle through as well once I had heaved the overweight and by now frantic beagle into the other neighbor's (thankfully unfenced) yard.

Since he'd burned his paws on the remaining ice, I had to carry him down the 3 acre length of the yard, into my mother's house. By the time we got inside, I was so out of breath that I could hardly speak. See, I am not in good shape. I am skinny by way of genetics, but I spend my entire day with my rear end firmly planted in an office chair. I also have a joint condition that has caused my knees and shoulders to deteriorate quite badly. So scaling an icy fence, getting tangled in barbed wire, and then carrying an overweight beagle down 3 acres of sloping yard was not exactly a Good Thing for me.

One of these days we will finally fix the last escape spot in the fence. I'm pretty sure that when that happens, Bradley will figure out how to climb, or build ladders in order to get out. Either that or he'll have become so fat by that point that he'll require us to carry him around on a litter.

Monday, November 1, 2010

the holiday rush

It's hard to believe that the year is already in the second-to-last month. I've been building and building towards halloween, filling my days with decorations and crafts and spooky movies, and in one rather uneventful night it's all done with. Holidays are all like that, really. The anticipation and building towards them is almost always better than the day itself.

Then it's over, suddenly, in a span of hours. You wake up the next morning and realize that you'll have to take all of those decorations down. Throw away the jack-o-lanterns that have started to fall in on themselves. Take down the lights. Wrap and pack all of the little glass skulls and ghosts and pumpkins.

This time of year there is no rest to be had. I was in Target on Saturday and they were already playing Christmas music. The TV is full of ads for jewelry and toys, and they've started putting up garlands at the malls. Soon Christmas will become a relentless hammer of advertising and decorations, beating everyone into holly-jolly submission.

I am of course excited about the prospect of decorating for Christmas this year. It's our first house together, and I'm picturing where I'll put the tree, and how I'll put snowmen on the staircase and wrap the banister with garland. I've started stitching lots of little ornaments out of felt and beads and turning my eye towards gifts.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a break, though. To space things out a little more, to relax and breath in between the holidays. Instead the time from September to January becomes a constant bombardment of the senses, where we go from shrieking ghouls to laughing santas, with a turkey and some pilgrims thrown in somewhere in the middle. It's also a time where you start to feel, more than anything, what you do not have and must sacrifice in favor of necessary things. It's been a hard year for a lot of people, and for many it will only get worse.

On the other hand, perhaps having the holidays all bunched together like this is easier in some ways. In a three month span it's done with, over, gone for another whole year. You can pack away the decorations and forget about the whole thing, until Fall comes around again and suddenly the stores smell like cinnamon and cloves, and everything turns into a riot of color and want, want, want.

Today when I go home I'll pack away all of my halloween things, and eat whatever candy was left over after the horde of trick-or-treaters last night. I don't bother decorating for Thanksgiving. My only interest in that particular holiday is the dinner that my sister makes, and the introduction of pumpkin pie into my diet. Soon enough Thanksgiving will come and go, and the very next day I'll put up my first Christmas tree.

I'll miss my jack-o-lanterns, though.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I did it for the bees...

Without fail, every time the temperature drops below 70 degrees my lips start to chap. Nothing has ever prevented this from happening. As soon as the season starts to shift from summer to fall, I start applying lip balm like a madwoman in a vain attempt to stop my lips from turning into cracked and reddened monsters that demand moisture every 10 seconds. It rather feels like going around with the plant from "Little Shop of Horrors" attached to my face. Every minute of the day, I can hear them screaming "FEED ME!!" (well, to be more accurate they actually scream "HYDRATE ME!!!", but that doesn't sound as funny), and I frantically delve into my purse or pockets in search of more balm.

I've tried every kind of lip balm out there. Chapstick doesn't really do much for me. Nor do the super fancy healing balms that proclaim they're so good that you'll practically sprout a lush tropical oasis in the middle of your face, complete with tiny waterfall. No, my balm of choice is Burt's Bees. I'm addicted to the stuff. In the event of a zombie uprising, those little yellow tubes will become to me what twinkies were to Woody Harrelson's character in "Zombieland". I will gather all of the balms that I can and hole myself up for the rest of my life, converting the empty tubes into miniature pipe bombs (pipe balms?) to defend my territory.

The weather has edged into the cooler temperatures, and one morning I felt the annoying tingle in my lips that meant if I didn't start slapping on the balm NOW, I'd suffer for it. I dug around in my purse, and...nothing. I rooted through my car. Nothing. I turned every purse in my closet upside down, in hopes of finding some balm.


See, we moved back in Spring. Somewhere in the shuffle, my container of extra lip balms vanished. I had one tube left, and hadn't bothered replacing it because I was simply too busy to think about it. But I knew I had another tube somewhere, because I'd used it just the other day. Perhaps I'd left it at work, I thought, or it had rolled under the couch. Trying to ignore the ever-increasing demands of my lips, I started pulling laundry from the washing machine. As I yanked pairs of jeans out of the washer, I heard it..a telltale "plonk..rattle rattle" in the barrel of the washing machine.

I peered inside, and there it was. My precious yellow tube of lip balm, ruined beyond all hope. I uncapped it and sniffed it, and it had turned into a squishy gooey substance that smelled like fabric softener.

In the back of my mind, my lips shrieked "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!"

It was OK, I reasoned. I'd be at the mall the next day, and there would surely be a store that sold more balm there. I'd be stuck there for a few hours, since my husband's car was in the shop and we were carpooling until it was fixed. He got out of work after I did, so I'd just kill time by window shopping until he was ready.

The next day I roamed the mall, licking my now cracked and flaking lips over and over, unable to stop myself even though I knew it would make them worse. Waldenbooks, I thought. They sold my preferred brand of lip balm. I knew I could find salvation there. I fairly trotted down the mall corridor, my mind focused on that one goal: obtaining more lip balm. I had to have it. Could imagine myself ripping the plastic seal from around the cap and ringing my mouth with sweet, sweet moisturizing manna from heaven.

Unfortunately for me, it didn't quite work out that way. I saw the display of balm at the register and grabbed one precious tube, clutching it like it was the holy grail. But there was no one at the register. I waited, growing increasingly anxious as the seconds ticked by and no one appeared to take my money. I looked around the store, but could see no employee anywhere. The woman behind me became impatient and actually started calling out for help, but no one came. It was like we'd entered into some alternate dimension where the book store was staffed by no one. I waited for two full minutes before I finally realized that I would not, in fact, be getting my balm from there. Dejected, I put it back into the display and left the store, mind frantically scrambling to think of where I could obtain more.

It was the mall, I thought. Surely some other store in the entire mall sold plain lip balm, right? Right??? I went the Hallmark store, where I discovered that Yankee Candle had started making lip balm. It came in tiny tubes that were shaped like the candle jars, and the flavors apparently were the more popular food related candle scents. It was also something like $5.95 for an incredibly small amount of balm, and I couldn't into the whole idea of smearing my lips with something that looked like a miniature candle and smelled like one, too. I went to Sephora, next, where I was reminded of the time I went to Victoria's Secret in search of a a plain half-slip. You see, Sephora simply does not do plain lip balm. if it's not glittery, tinted, plumping, or $45 a tube, they don't have it. With a sense of rising panic, I tried every department store, gift store, and kiosk in the mall. No one sold Burt's Bees, except for Waldenbooks, which was still evidently without a clerk manning the register.

I was now completely obsessed with finding lip balm. I got into my car and drove to store after store in the area, finding nothing. By that point I was so desperate that all I could think about was my increasingly chapped lips. Really, this is why I've never even tried anything addictive like cigarettes or alcohol. I'd probably go from "person who enjoys an occasional drink" to "raging alcoholic who drinks vodka at work" in a matter of days. My single-minded focus on things is useful in some situations, but when it's centered on something I do not have and cannot obtain, it only makes things worse.

Eventually I gave up my search, and went to my husband's place of work feeling completely dejected. I slumped on a stool and contemplated my misery, my lips now a mass of cracked and burning skin. My husband sighed, told his co-workers "I'll be right back", and came back 15 minutes later with a tube of Burt's Bees, having gone to Waldenbooks and hunted down the missing clerk, who apparently waited on him with great reluctance.

This, my friends, is why I married him. Also, because he cooks, and were it not for him I'd exist entirely on boxed macaroni and cheese and cereal.

I've since stocked up on balm, and am trying to remember to check my pockets before I toss my jeans in the washing machine. Hopefully these things will prevent me from turning into a gibbering idiot, standing on a street corner with a cardboard sign that proclaims my willingness to work for Burt's Bees.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Making the Cut

I've made it my goal to learn at least one new technique a year.

My jewelry making has evolved a great deal over the years. I started out stringing beads, and then went to beadweaving. From there I went to bead embroidery, and then wirework, and then to etching. Now I've purchased a jeweler's saw, so I'm going to add piercing/cutting to my range of skills. Or so I hope, at least. In my previous post I mentioned my tendancy to injure myself, so this new idea may not end very well for me.

I've always been very obsessive when it comes to new things. When I find something I enjoy, I focus on it with great intensity and do only that thing for months. I'm that way with everything from food (I will eat the same thing for lunch every single day for weeks on end) to books (a new genre that I enjoy will become the only one I read for months). Techniques are the same way for me. Of course, I don't totally abandon my old favorites. They still get incorporated to some degree, re-visited, adored all over again. Nothing beats that initial learning process, though, that satisfaction when the first truly good piece is created after dozens of cast-offs and botched designs.

I don't know why I didn't learn how to pierce and cut sheet metal sooner. I cut my sheet metal now with a heavy set of metal shears, but those are heavy and clumsy and can only really produce a few simple shapes. I want to be able to make intricate cut-out designs, to be unlimited in what shapes and designs I make. It's time to learn something new, as well. I still love to wire wrap, and to etch copper, but this will open new doors for me.

Hopefully I won't damage myself too much during the learning process. I have my doubts about that, though. I'm sure there will be at least a little bit of blood at some point. I'm sure it will be well worth it, as my previous injuries have been while I've learned new things.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Pumpkin Queen

Growing up as a home schooled and very accident prone child, there were certain experiences that I missed out on. Carving a jack-o-lantern for Halloween was one of those things.

Now, I had a very rich and varied education with a lot of activites thrown in for good measure. I went places, and did things, and got to try as many arts-and-crafts projects as I wanted.

Except for anything involving pointy objects. I'm the girl who nearly cut the pad of her fingertip off on a catfood can lid. I once cut a chunk out of my middle finger with a pair of safety scissors. Yeah, that's right. Safety scissors. The sort that you're not supposed to be able to cut yourself with. I still have a scar from those things.

Over the years my injuries have been many, and the majority of them have involved my wrists and hands (and my head, a few times, but only bad enough to need stitches one time).

So pumpkin carving was something that was simply not done. That, and my mother was simply not fond of Halloween, having come from a country where such a holiday was not observed. She would dutifully take my sister and me trick-or-treating every year, and would even make all of our costumes by hand, but we didn't really decorate the house for it. I got to grow pumpkins as a kid. I had a whole garden full of the things, ranging in size from tiny to massive. But I was never permitted to take a knife to any of my home-grown pumpkins. I completely understand and appreciate my mother's reasons for this. Would you give me a knife for the purpose of disembowling a pumpkin and carving faces in it? Probably not, as the likely result would be a trip to the hospital and a halloween jack-o-lantern that was covered with real blood. I instead made my jack-o-lanterns out of construction paper (using the aforementioned not-so-safety scissors).

So I made it to the ripe age of 29 without ever having carved a pumpkin. I love Halloween and all of its trappings, so I don't know why I never just went out and bought myself some pumpkins one year and had at them. Probably some ingrained "must not risk fingers" instinct that was keeping me from ever considering it. My husband, however, discovered that my experience was sadly lacking, and decided to remedy this fact.

Last night we sacrificed one of our wedding pumpkins (I'd purchased some to use for decorations, and later re-located them to our front porch after the wedding was over) for my first jack-o-lantern experience. I let Adam cut the top off, and then I scooped out all of the guts. I'd forgotten how raw pumpkin smells..not like the delicious scent of pie at all, but something rather less pleasant. I chose the most basic jack-o-lantern design: Two triangular eyes, a triangle nose, and a gap-toothed grin. Adam added a stitched frankenstein-esque scar to the side.

It's not the prettiest jack-o-lantern around..nor the scariest. It's rather simple looking, but last night when we put it out on the front porch and lit the candle inside, I was terribly proud of myself.

I also managed to get through the experience with all of my fingers intact, and my friend and I are going to have a pumpkin-carving extravaganza this weekend. She and her mother are actual award-winning pumpkin carvers, so I fear my pride will be seriously squished by the end of it, but that's OK. One day, perhaps, I too will be the Pumpkin Queen..but for now, I'll settle for just being the Pumpkin Peasant.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Studly Fashion

Yesterday my sister and I took advantage of the holiday weekend and went shopping. Now, it's been a little while since I went clothes shopping. Since we bought a house back in June, my closet space has expanded but my budget has shrunk. Besides, in a way I was using clothes and shoes as a void filler, and now that I have a house of my own I'm not quite so inclined to spend loads of money on new ones.

I still do love fashion, though, and as seasons change and shoes and clothes wear out, the time does come to replace certain things. The problem that I had, though, was that it seems as though fashion designers are not taking an "editing eye" to their latest lines.

It became very clear that embellishments are hugely in style right now. I noticed this past year that studs were creeping into fashion, and then flowers, and then random ruffles. Now it seems the military look is in, but it's being combined with studs and ruffles and flowers and buttons and chains and sequins was like someone went back in time and unleashed the 1980s on Ft. Knox, after giving it a hefty dose of sugar and a bedazzler. Everything had some form of embellishment on it. I like those things in moderation. When you have one top that has ALL of those things on it, it becomes a bit much. I can just imagine walking down the hall at work in one of those things. There'd be some hugely important meeting going on, and from within the board room they'd hear this:

"clink clink clink clink clink clink"

Really, just pair it with some corduroy pants and I could start my own symphony just by walking. Either that or convince people that the ghost of christmas past was wandering the building, rattling chains and bewailing the state of humanity.

It makes me think of being a kid and making barbie clothes out of fabric scraps and whatever shiny crap I could find to sew on there. Rhinestones? Fantastic. Buttons? Perfect. Beads? Yes, please. Chains? Why not?

I didn't wear that much hardware when I was into the goth scene, decking myself out in bondage cuffs and dog collars. I had buckles on everything you could put a buckle on, and I still wasn't as bad as one of the dresses I saw. I can't imagine what going through a metal detector would be like (well, I can imagine what it'd be like at the local court house. The deputy manning the metal detector would determine that I am female, young, and thus not possibly smuggling anything in under my skirt, and would wave me on in a bored manner).

Really, is it so much to want something simple, or only slightly decorated? When you've got more metal on your chest than a high ranking military general, there just might be a need to cut back a bit. Not everyone needs to look like Houdini before he makes his grand escape.

Oh well. I do think some cute things have come from this trend, when the embellishments are used in moderation and don't dominate the entire outfit. Hopefully the trend will pass before we all go around sounding like someone threw a handful of pennies into a washing machine.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Treasure Hoard

This past weekend I went to a bead show, as I do every spring. The bead show comes through town twice a year, once in March, and again in September. I always anticipate its arrival, reminding my fiance constantly that "the bead show is coming!!" for weeks before it gets here.

I buy most of my jewelry making supplies online. Copper wire, tools, all the chemicals and such I use for etching, and often times beads as well. But there's nothing quite like being able to sort through them in person, picking each stone, deciding between this strand or that one instead of relying on a vendor to do it for you.

I came away with a small hoard of gems, all sparkling and shimmering in their rather unglamorous brown paper bags. I didn't spend as much as I usually do, simply because I will hopefully be buying a house within the next few months, and I'll also be getting married this year. No matter how tempting a gigantic pile of sparkly jewels might be, I would very much like a proper work room to keep them in.

Here's a sampling of what I've made so far with my new pretties:

I'm really loving the aquamarine beads. I bought two strands of those, because I knew I'd be kicking myself if I only bought one. They were my most expensive purchase, but I think they were plenty worth it.

The next show won't be here until September, so I've got a while to play with new designs and work with what I bought this time around. Hopefully by the next show I'll be all settled into a new work space, with a proper bench for my anvil and other tools. Oh, and lots of floor-to-ceiling bookcases, because I plan on having a work room/library. Then my fiance would probably never see me again, because I would only emerge from that room to eat and use the bathroom.

Monday, March 8, 2010

So long, Jack Frost

Today was the first truly warm day of the year. The temperature made it all the way up to 63 degrees, which meant that people everywhere were wandering around in shorts and short sleeved t-shirts. Not being a true Kentucky native, I never fully adapted to the colder weather. I can tolerate more than my fellow native Floridians, but I will never be brave enough to pull out the shorts until the weather is well into the high 70s. The people here will put on shorts as soon as it gets above 50 degrees.

This weekend I went shopping for a bit, enjoying the sun and the promise of spring. The stores were full of women buying pretty spring dresses, sandals, and sunglasses. Like Goldfinches we seek to shake off our drab hues and decorate ourselves with brilliant plumage as the weather heads towards something more tolerable. This was a long, difficult winter. Not just for us, but everywhere seemed to be hit hard by snow and ice. Here, it just seemed to be never ending bitterly cold weather, punctuated by inches of snow.

Having plenty of pretty dresses, I did resist the urge to indulge in something that will only languish in my closet for a while. I still need to do my seasonal closet purge, and I need to seriously reconsider my shoe collection. My knees have not been very happy with me, which means high heels are right out until my knees get better. I realized this past week that I have very few pairs of flat, practical shoes. I've been wearing the same pair of hastily purchased comfortable boots nearly every day, because about 95% of my shoe collection consists of heels. I bought the boots one day when I was walking around the mall and thought "I cannot take many more steps in these shoes". Luckily for me, Dillard's was having a massive sale on boots, so I got them for cheap, and they're my favorite comfort brand of shoe (Born).

I am looking forward to putting away the bulky layers of winter. I feel like an onion sometimes, shedding scraps of clothing everywhere I go, leaving trails of gloves and hats and scarves around the house, in my car, in my desk drawers at work. I've been viewing the world through the slit between the constrictor-like twists of my scarf and the bottom of my fashionably slouchy (and therefor cumbersome) hat.

Bring on the warm weather. Like Gypsy Rose Lee, I'd like to strip off a glove or two.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lost in a haze of smoke and light...

"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset" -Crowfoot

The view from my back yard, at sunset. The column of smoke is from the power plant in the city.

I have a sharper picture of it, but I love the hazy look of the first picture.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Favorite Things Part III

Of all my worldly goods, books are probably what I love the most. In books there can be found so many things. Reading a book isn't just about gaining knowledge. It's the pleasure of it, the feel of the cover between your hands, the weight of it, the turning of each page, the smell of the ink and paper. Books contain entire worlds, anything you could possibly imagine, things fantastic and mysterious and heartbreaking.

Growing up homeschooled was difficult at times. I did get lonely on occasion. I had friends, but my world was something entirely different from theirs. Their lives revolved largely around what had happened at school that day. When you're the only person in your school, there is no drama, or gossip, or wondering what to wear. The bullies, the popular kids, the geeks, the outcasts..none of those people existed for me. I was all of those things, and none of them.

I frequently lost myself in my own imagination. Books were really not much different than that. It was just taking a break from my own head and losing myself in someone else's for a while. There was no loneliness in the turning of pages, in the stories playing out in each chapter. There was no one to judge me or think me strange, which is what often happened when I met other people my age. It was like someone had branded me with a big blazing mark that said "DIFFERENT", and of course when you're a child, and then a teenager, being different is usually considered to be a bad thing. I've never regretted my education, and I don't wish that I'd been allowed to attend public school. I just wish others had been more accepting of it.

So I read. I devoured books. I spent most of my allowance on new ones, and I always wanted more. Fantasy, history, true crime, mythology, fiction...I tried to fill myself to the brim with stories and facts, but my desire to read was bottomless. It's something I have never grown out of. I love books, and bookstores, and libraries. I hoard my books like a dragon guarding treasure, gloating over each new one I acquire. No matter how many I have, I will never have enough.

I dream of one day having a house with a proper library in it. I want every wall to have floor-to-ceiling bookcases loaded with books. My fiance is a smart man. For Valentine's Day, he didn't get me chocolate, or jewelry, or flowers. He bought me books, because he knows that's the way to my heart.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Favorite Things, Part II

To continue my post series about some of my favorite things, my next subject is: machinery!

I find old, broken-down, rusted machinery to be fascinating. All of those gears and bolts and knobs have always been so interesting to look at. I used to use pieces of old copper pipes in some of my artwork, and the more grungy they were, the better.

Living out in a rural area provides me with a lot of old broken-down farm equipment to choose from. People out here will frequently leave things to rust into nothingness in their fields, which itself is rather shameful for the environment, but provides me with lots of things to poke through.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In Pieces

The owner of the auto shop my car is currently housed in called me this afternoon. He said it was awfully close, but the insurance company opted to fix my car rather than total it. Since the frame and engine were unharmed, and the car is still fairly new, it was considered to be worth fixing.

I was so relieved that my legs started shaking. I've always been an emotional person. I get very invested in things, and my car represented more than just a means of getting from point A to B. I still remember with some measure of regret important things I've lost over the years, like my favorite teddy bear. It wasn't the bear itself, but the comfort it represented that I missed. I place more meaning than I should, perhaps, in material objects. Rather than viewing them as replaceable, I instead view them with sentimental value attached. A replacement is not quite the same.

So in about two weeks, I'll have my car back. Right now it's sitting in pieces in the auto shop, stripped of its panels and bumper, waiting to be put back together. I'll be happy to go get it from the shop and bring it home.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A few of my favorite things

In an effort to cheer myself up while waiting for news about my car, I thought I'd do a series of posts about things I love.

I love fashion. Accessories in particular. Scarves, pocketbooks, jewelry, belts..I am never without some sort of accessory when I'm out and about.

In the realm of jewelry, I have somewhat eclectic taste. I like classic jewelry, like strings of pearls and simple yet elegant rings, but I also like unique pieces that are bold and eye-catching. Keys are a particular favorite of mine. I recently bought two rather ornate sterling key pendants that have low grade rubies set in them. There's something very romantic about them, I think. They look like they ought to unlock something wonderful.

I've had this big silver ring forever. I bought it a few years ago, but I've only worn it a few times. I recently dug it out of my jewelry box and started wearing it more. The only problem is that I keep whacking it against everything. That's the reason why my engagement ring is actually a very small, delicate piece. I was afraid that if I wore a large stone, or one that stuck out, I'd damage the ring. The big chunky silver one is pretty much impossible to hurt, but I can't imagine wearing it every day.

The turquoise band on my ring finger is one that my mother bought for herself, but decided was too bulky to wear, so she gave it to me. It's positively dainty next to the other behemoth.

Now we move on to purses. I love purses. My love affair with purses and shoes didn't really start until I was in my mid twenties. Now I am always hunting for the next Perfect Purse, and that extends to pocketbooks and change purses, too. I found this little gem for $12 on the clearance table at Macy's. I have a particular weakness for Fossil bags, and I could not resist the berry color of the leather, nor the little bronze bird stitched onto it. It's just big enough to fit my mirror and a few tubes of lip balm.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Second Chances

Thursday morning I got up to the sound of my alarm clock and went through my morning routine. Showered, got dressed, put on my makeup, and packed my lunch. I kissed my sleeping fiance goodbye, and headed off to work.

I made it exactly five miles. The roads where I live twist and turn, roll up and down hills, snaking away towards the city where everything finally becomes flat and straight. Going down and around a steep curve, the steering on my car felt oddly loose. One second later, the car was spinning out of control, and finally stopped when it hit a guardrail.

I'd hit a rather large patch of black ice. The entire road was slick with it, so once my car started sliding, there never was a time where it was off the ice. Unfortunately the fact that it was on a downhill curve meant that momentum took over and the car got out of control so badly and so fast that I barely had time to think before it was over.

I hit the emergency button on my OnStar and summoned police. An off-duty officer also happened to be passing by, and he sat there with me and reassured me. While we were sitting there, watching the morning turn from black to grey, another car came hurtling down the curve and spun into the side of the hill. They were able to drive away, at least.

It was over very quickly, really. Police came and went, the wrecker came for my car, and it was extracted from the guardrail and loaded up. I sat in my fiance's car and watched as the police swept away the pieces of my headlights from the road. 45 minutes was all that the entire process took, from the wreck to finding myself at home, stripping off my work clothes, rubbing away my makeup. My car sat in the driveway, its front end crumpled, headlights nothing but wires and smashed bulbs.

I saved for three years to buy that car. The money I made from my first major jewelry sale was the money I opened the savings account with. I researched cars online and drove my old car until it was on the verge of falling apart. I paid over half the cost of my new car in cash, and it felt so good to make that first major purchase in my life. I'd saved all the money myself, not taking help from my parents. I only had to take out a small loan to finance the rest. It would have been paid off this year.

I'm hoping they can fix it, that they don't have to total it. I don't want another new car right now. I want MY car back. The car I saved for and researched and finally drove off the lot in, thrilled at having something that didn't stall or leak rainwater from the doors, something I could call reliable, that started in the cold weather and didn't overheat when it was hot outside.

Of course insurance ruled the accident to be my fault. My deductible is high, but not unmanageable. I'd pay it to have that car back. I'm just waiting to hear if I do get to have it back, or if they'll decide it's not worth fixing. Three years of saving, two years of driving, one second to lose it. I wish I had a second chance with that morning. I'd have taken another road.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Magic Keys

When I was a little girl, I was fascinated by the idea of magic and mystery. What kid isn't, really? There's so much magic in childhood. We believe in more. Nothing is impossible. We believe that we can be anything when we grow up, that fairies might really exist, that one day the path we take every single day through the woods will lead us to a fairyland if we only find the right slant of light to step sideways through.

I spent hours playing in the woods when I was growing up, and I spent hours reading books. I loved the thought of other realms awaiting discovery, and wished I could find them.

Alas, eventually I grew up, and became involved in all of the adult things like bills and jobs and having to feed and clothe myself and worrying about the price of gas or if I'd forgotten to unplug the iron. But I still try to hold onto magic wherever I can. I still love being in the woods, and I still love to read, and all the magic I never did find as a child creeps its way into my jewelry from time to time.

I've been working on a series of key pendants, because keys are something else I've always loved. I collect sterling silver key pendants, and I dream of going round to antique malls and buying old skeleton keys. Keys just have so much potential. There's a certain mystery to a key, especially if it's an old one. Who used it? What did it unlock, or what did it keep contained?

The keys I've been making are meant to be magic keys, to unlock those mysterious, wonderful worlds I never quite managed to find in all my years of prowling the woods. Some part of me is convinced that somewhere out there, they do exist.


The Key to the Heavens is one of the more abstract keys, meant to fool the casual eye into thinking it merely a pretty design. Because one can't have just anyone unlocking its realm, after all...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Dark and Stormy Night

January is in its last week, and it seems as though this month has stretched on forever. It started off bitterly cold and then turned into a rain-soaked mess, which we are still in the middle of. Today was the first day we've had in a week where it was not pouring down.

It's been so foggy here that the mornings and nights have rendered the rest of the world invisible to me. When I look out my front door, all I can see of the house across the street is one hazy halo of light from their front porch. The trees are hulking spider-shapes that loom out unexpectedly whenever I leave the safety of my porch. It's wonderful and disturbing and makes me think that ghosts must be lurking somewhere out there, because if ever there was weather that suited a lost spirit, this is it.

Today was unusually warm for the season, and it was like the tiniest scrap of spring crept out for a single day, but next week it will be lost to the cold temperatures again. The ground is soggy, made up of sucking mud that weighs down my shoes and gets all over everything.

Such is winter, here in Kentucky. It's really no more than I expect. The only good thing so far is that we've not had another ice storm, like we did last year.

Despite the brief respite from the rain, I stayed inside for the most part today. I wanted to take my camera out and take some pictures of the bare trees, the flooded creeks, and my poor, mud-caked goat, but laziness prevailed. Not laziness, exactly, because I have been working today. I've been making jewelry, and etching copper, and doing the massive loads of laundry that this time of year generates.

I wish spring were here, and I look everywhere for signs of it, but I find none. It won't be until the end of next month that it starts to show itself in the red buds clustering on the maple trees, and the first crocus blooms pushing their way out of the ground. By the end of March the woods will have the faintest haze of green and Bluets will start to pop up in clusters around the yard.

For now it's just mud, and rain, and ice, and more fog than a victorian murder mystery would know what to do with, and a slow deep ache in my joints that begs for warmer, drier weather. Alas, I must wait.