Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Snowflakes for Christmas

It's almost Christmas and I am not close to being done with everything I need to do.  Every year I start a bit earlier on my Christmas list of things to do and every year I still come down to crunch time where I live on coffee and go without sleep to get everything done in time.  When my son was small, it was a tradition to make a homemade ornament for the tree each year, and I continued that tradition until 2010.  I lived alone, the tree was full and the Great Recession had taken a toll on my Christmas cheer.  But this year I wanted to celebrate my new life and renewed focus on art.

I am a glass and metal artist.  It has taken me years to find my focus in art because I love EVERYTHING art.  And I still dabble in many medias.  But my passion has always returned to glass and metal.  I made a decision that when I had the time and opportunity (and rather than be a jack of all trades), I would learn everything I could about these two mediums.

This year, with a tree full to breaking from the amount of ornaments created from the fusion of two families, I decided it was time to decorate the window and created this simple snowflake from beveled glass, glass pebbles, wire and solder.  I loved this pattern because the roundness of the pebbles softened the geometric edges of the beveled glass.  Very easy to create, each piece was edged with copper foil tape and fluxed.  I arranged the snowflake on a marble tile I use for soldering and tack soldered the flake together before covering all the the copper foil with Silver Gleem solder that polishes up to look like sterling silver.  I finished by soldering a wire hanger to the top to hang the flake from (the wire needs to be firmly soldered to the snowflake due to its weight).

I am enjoying the flake hanging in my window with the snow falling gently behind it.  Since the window is 5' by 12', I should have room for a snowflake a year for a very long time!  Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, July 27, 2015

FotoChallenge 3 - Leading Lines

FotoChallenge is a weekly prompt started between myself and the wonderful photographer/artist Bevlea and Glenda to inspire and challenge ourselves to shoot regularly, and extend our skills. 
Our FotoChallenge is to take an image, based on the weekly theme and upload it to our blogs by midnight Sunday of each week. We invite you to play along, take a pic using our weekly theme, add it to your blog and leave a link to your image in the comments section.  This week's challenge is "Leading Lines."

The photo I chose was taken with my iPhone and edited in Instagram and depicts the entrance to the walking path over the Sam Jackson Bridge over the Columbia River from the Vancouver, WA side.

Friday, January 18, 2013


In October I was delighted to spend a week farm-sitting for Katherine Dunn at her Apifera Farm.  To experience the beauty of fall in Yamhill County Oregon while caring for a menagerie of characters including sheep, goats, donkeys, cats, dogs, chickens, geese and a horse was for me the opportunity of a lifetime.  I enjoyed every moment of my time there (despite the peculiar odors the dogs produced after eating pumpkins), while I dispensed hay and grain and a multitude of hugs and kisses to all and hoped to have the opportunity to return and farm-sit again.

So, of course, when Katherine asked me to sit last weekend, I leapt at the chance.  I said hello to all my old friends and greeted with joy Katherine’s two newest additions to the farm, Tasha Teats Tudor and her paramour Rudy, both beautiful senior goats who had found their forever home.  But this time, things were to be a bit different.  The weather turned cold the first day and dropped to the teens that night.  I got up early the next morning to pass out feed and make sure everyone had survived thechilling temperatures and initially, everyone seemed okay…

Until I reached Tasha and Rudy who I had left snuggled in their stall.  To my alarm, Tasha was lying on her side (not good for goats) and gasping.  I pulled her small body up close in my arms to warm and revive her, but Tasha had other things on her mind.  I pleaded and begged her to come back and told her how much she was loved and how Rudy would miss her, but Tasha simply laid her head down in my arms and let me know she was ready to pass.  Today was her time to find her place in goat heaven where her pain would disappear and she would kick up her heels in unending green pastures.  

With Rudy watching over us, I held her for hours, watching her breathing slow and her eyes slowly lose focus on this world.  Itold her it was okay leave us and find her way over.  I asked her to say a hello to my dogs and cats who crossed over before her and to my son’s father, who I know is sitting in the shade of a slow moving river, with a line in the water and a beer in his hand.  And with a gasp and a tremor, she passed and was no more.  I laid her gently in the hay and said a prayer for her and shed tears for her passing.  Her passing was a spiritual experience that touched my soul and I feel privileged to have eased her from this world.  In helping her find her way, I was able to face my own mortality and will fear it no more.  Such are the gifts our animals bring us.

As the sun set on that day, the fog cleared and the waning light turned wispy clouds silver  in the darkening sky.  I could see Tasha waving to us from far above.  Her angel wings not. yet big enough to support her, she was drifting to heaven on the back of a shining feather one of the chickens had provided for this solemn, but joyous, celebration.  Farewell, Tasha!  Thank you for the love and wisdom you left behind in this world.  

Apifera Farm is the home to many rescued farm animals that are elderly and/or disabled.  They live their days free to roam the barnyard and are given daily doses of love by Katherine and all who visit.  Please visit her websites at to learn more and consider a donation to help out with the feed and care of the animals.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Australia Conclusion - Warrendyte, Sassafras and Saying Goodbye

Before I end my journey in Australia, I want to go back to a short jaunt through a delightful junky craft store that Eva took me to in the Melbourne area called Theo's Discount Craft. When we pulled up, it didn't look like much from the outside, but inside I thought I would never get back out with enough money to continue my trip. Every kind of craft you can think of. Some which I haven't seen in years. More than you can really look at in a day without losing your mind in the sheer amount of stuff inside this little warehouse.

Fabric, costumes, dolls, sewing, beads, jewelry, party supplies, lace collars, packaging, toys, novelties, kewpie dolls, the list went on and on.

So much fun. The graveyard cache for out of date crafts coupled with junk crafts, and in between some really good buys on supplies. We have nothing like that here.

The last few days I had left we stayed local. Twice we went to a very arty town, Warrendyte, that I thoroughly enjoyed. Here, by the Yarra River, I watched dogs fetch balls from the river for their owners, Loved this pair of retrievers. One went in the water to fetch the ball. The other remained on the shore and stole the ball from the other dogs mouth while he was climbing out of the water. I think it was a reluctant partnership of sorts.

After picking up some chocolate covered licorice, we visited this antique store. Loved the name, but the store had only small aisles through the merchandise and it quickly became claustrophobic inside.

We walked by several galleries and stores along the busy main street. Loved these wooden cockatoos.

This was my favorite store filled with handmade jewelry and fun eclectic stuff for the home.

Inside one store was an Australian flag backlit by lighting and I took this photo with Hipstamatic on my iPhone.

Still hard to wrap my head around the fact that it is spring here. But I am trying to soak all the sun in that I can, knowing that I am returning to icy weather soon.

I found this sanctuary behind an art gallery amid the eucalyptus trees and said a quiet prayer.

And one last trip to my favorite place of all, Sassafras, in the Dandenong Range, where we had lunch at Miss Marples again. One last look at Sassafras Wool Shop and Oracle, my favorite stores. Breathing in every site to remember well after I am gone.

A last tour of the garden areas and gift stores that we love. Trying to slow time down a put the inevitable departure at bay...

But in the end, I sadly got in the car with Eva and headed to the airport in Melbourne to board a plane back to the States. Thank you Eva (and family), Kathleen, Marg and Pat, Barb and Dennis, Gail, Bevlea and all the women in my classes for a wonderful time that will live long in my memory. But especially Eva who opened up her heart and home to me and gave so much of herself to make sure I had an opportunity to really see Victoria as few tourists are able. I hear from many of you still and hope to carry you all in my heart for the rest of my days.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Australia Part 10 - Bendigo

We woke early, excited to explore the city of Bendigo. A wonderful mix of old and new, presided over by Queen Victoria, a multitude of churches and cathedrals and the very visible remnants of the gold mining history that is the reason for the founding of this city. We parked at the top of the hill and wound our way through the streets of downtown Bendigo, exploring stores and churches alike.

The architecture is rich and ornate. The buildings well preserved and beautiful. The people friendly and open. The arts were well represented here, as well.

An old mailbox stands on the corner, looking like a lonely sentinel in its bright red coat of paint.

The Cathedral stands at the heart of the city. Stunningly beautiful inside and out.

Carved wooden angels trim the arches of the ceiling above high arched windows.

A large stained glass window and organ fill the balcony section.

The ceiling is stunningly beautiful with the stark white contrasting with the rich wood construction.

I could have spent hours in the cathedral, but my time was limited and I was eager to see more of this city. For the next few hours we explored the little shops that lined the streets. A bookbinder, a milliner, and antique stores and more.

We stopped at a gallery and explored a local artists beautiful paintings of Greece.

Tired and hungry, we finally stopped at a Thai restaurant where we had red curry for lunch. After lunch, Margaret and I headed for the the White Wedding Dress exhibit at the local art gallery while Eva continued to browse the stores.

Unfortunately, no photos were allowed at the show, which had traveled to Bendigo from England, and included dresses and other wedding garb from the early 1800's forward. The dresses were covered with handmade lace and pearls. The oohs and ahhs were audible throughout the exhibit.

Many of the stores had related window displays that celebrated the museum show with dresses made in a variety of mediums.

A tour of a local park turned up trees full of flying foxes. Used to the small cave bats in the Western U.S., I was amazed these "bats" could fly, so large they were. Chilling to look at too!

Then we were off to historic Bendigo pottery, established during the original gold rush days and a working pottery manufacturer to this day. The complex included studios of local artists, as well as the old kilns and working demonstrations of pottery making. You could almost hear the hustle and bustle of the old as you toured the now unused kilns and viewed the pottery of old mixed with new.

We took to the road again and stopped at a local park and pond where I took photos of birds standing in the grass by the water.

This purple swamp hen was one of my favorite birds with it's blue purple plumage.

A bit further down the road, was an old graveyard filled with ornate graves. I wandered around looking at the ornate iron work and beautifully carved statues and headstones and wondered who these brave people had been that created such a beautiful city from the bare earth with only the barest promise of a rich future ahead...

When we arrived at the house, we sat down to another delicious dinner. The hospitality in this country is impressive and I am filled with gratitude for all that was selflessly offered to me during my time in Australia!

After dinner, we drove back to town to take photos of the old cathedral under the light of a full moon. The gargoyles took on a more menacing light at night and the bushes seemed to whisper of the past. The bare tree branches framed the moon and, although spring here, my thoughts are of All Hallows Eve.

The next morning is our last here and we start with a tram tour of the city starting at the old gold mine. We see many of the sites we walked the day before, as well as some of the residential area. I loved the wrought iron lace that decorates the eaves of many of the houses. It's clear that the gold rush fueled both the success of the city and its occupants from the opulent architecture of the older buildings.

After the tram, we traveled to the Joss House, in continuous use since the 1800's. Although the Chinese were also a big part of our gold rush days, I believe this is the first time I have seen a Joss House that dated back to that era. The temple was well preserved and the proprietor very knowledgeable of its history.

We return to town and, while Eva and Margaret wait, I climb the tower on top of the hill to get a 360 degree view of this beautiful town. The view was magnificent, as were the decorative mosiacs embedded in the concrete and stone around the tower.

We reluctantly say our goodbyes as we leave this city that has been my favorite of all and head back to Melbourne. A bittersweet return as I know that I have only a few days left before I must return home.