Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My New House

Here's a picture of my new little house. It's about 1/3rd the size of the previous place, and we are going to have quite a time squeezing into it. There are only 864 sq. ft. of living space. However, the basement is the same size, so there is a lot of storage room. Eventually we hope to replace the falling-down garage with a back yard studio, but who knows when that will be?

I'm going crazy with packing and stuff -- we have less than a week to be out of here, and take possession of the new place at the end of the week. We will be moving our belongings into the basement storage space while we get the floors done upstairs. Should be an exciting weekend.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Back At It Again...

Here's a beginning. I don't know if it's August, September, December... or if that really much matters just now. It feels really good to be back beading, even though there really is NO TIME for it now.

We did sell our house, finally, and with a great deal of ugliness and dishonesty on the part of the buyers. Real estate is not for the likes of me, who wants to just deal straightforwardly and above board. We have 30 days to vacate, no slack permitted. We have no house to vacate to. We almost bought a place, but today's inspection revealed the need for not only a new roof and some wiring, but complete re-plumbing! Too rich for our blood, and not enough time to get it all done anyway... We had to pay almost $600 to find all this out, of course -- my classes for Bead Expo, now up in smoke. So, if I ever thought I knew fear before... no, I did not. Our only prospect at the moment is a very beautiful little house in a great location that is about a mile too small for us. Maybe we can shoehorn ourselves in, and maybe we can build a little studio building out in the back... And, of course, we don't yet know if there are any surprises there for us to discover.

This has truly been the worst year of my life so far. There have been bright spots, to be sure, but one of the brightest consistently has been BJP. I haven't been good at keeping up, and I don't post as often as I'd like. However, it is very inspiring to me to see everyone's work and to be working along also. The beading is truly good for my soul, and helps keep me anchored to the ground.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

July Page Finished

So, here it is at last. Now on to August and September. This month will be an exercise in spontaneity, and that will be good for me.

I started out with the three light buttons, then decided to just outline around them with various beads and textures and see what design would develop and grow. Where the June page is relatively simple and symbolic, July came out very complex looking and design-oriented, and not symbolic of anything at all. To me, it has come to have something of a liquid feeling, but that may just be because it's almost 3am and I'm sleepy! I also chose to emphasize colors that I don't necessarily use all the time, and that was interesting, too.

At this point, I have no ideas about the August or September pages. They'll just grow.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Home Again, At Last

Tobacco House, Hoffman Estates, IL

I am finally home from Tobacco House, where my mother lived. This was only going to be a one-week trip, but extended to two... My mom was ill from terminal emphysema due to smoking from age 12 to age 68. She did quit finally, but the damage was done. Her house was coated with 30+ years of heavy smoking by her, her husband and my step brothers, one of whom stayed with her and gave her constant care as her condition worsened. I had to stay in a nearby hotel for the time I was there because the air was so bad inside the house.

When I got there I found the place looking as though it hadn't been cleaned at all in the last 10 or 12 years-- and it hadn't! You know how those TV shows like The Munsters always had everything covered in fake cobwebs? In my mom's house, they were real cobwebs! I'm a little sorry now that I didn't take pictures of the inside of the house, but it just seemed so very dreadful... The hospice people were paying someone to come in and clean once a week, but apparently all she did was neaten up a little in the kitchen and talk on her cell phone. It didn't take me very long to whisk away the cobwebs and dust with a swiffer, and my brother (we stopped all that "step-brother/step-sister" nonsense right away-- family is what you make of it!) and I restored the living room from being a warehouse maze of boxes of medical and long-term care supplies. There were a few glass covered bookcases with frosted glass-- but when I cleaned them, it turned out to be clear glass coated with years of thick tobacco tar! I tried cleaning the walls, but when the 5th pass had the paper towel coming away the same dark brown oily color, I gave up. It was a very small (1,000sq ft.) and very dark house, indeed, without the tobacco's help.

Mom's room was kept pretty clean, though, except for the corners, which had cobwebs. She had a very comfortable hospital bed with an air mattress, TV and all the general comforts she needed. And she was very alert and had not lost one bit of her wonderful dark sense of humor. The humor helped a lot, for sure. We spent a couple of really wonderful days together going through her costume jewelry and trying it on like a couple of little kids, sharing memories and jokes.

I got there on Thursday/Friday, and by Monday she started to go into a decline. The hospice got Medicare to approve continuous nursing for her, which was a huge relief to my brother and his roommate, who had been doing round-the-clock shifts for the last year to make sure Mom was okay and got all the care she needed. It was a great relief to me, too, to know that they could rest at last, and that Mom was getting the best. I had no money to kick in, and they had all been living mostly on Mom's small pensions, so it's good to know that Medicare was willing to pay for that. We sure couldn't have.

My days there were spent cleaning up as best as I could, going through papers, helping prepare her will, packing my dad's paintings. And, of course, sitting with Mom when she was awake. She had some very bad nights where she would call out for help. I'd ask what she wanted and she'd look at me and say, "You!" So I kept extending my stay, of course. It was starting to get scary expensive, but what could I do? I was glad to be able to be there for her. When she signed her will, it kind of looked like maybe she might not be able to actually sign, but then, after a tentative try with the pen, she signed quite vigorously. This had been on her mind for some time, and she was very determined to get it taken care of. That night was much quieter for her.

On Sunday, August 19, after a couple days of more and more sleeping, my mother died at 11:25pm. It seemed peaceful. She had spent the whole day just lying quietly, breathing rapidly but showing no distress, though she was very much aware of her surroundings and nodded to me when I spoke to her. It looked to me as though she was just letting the charge run out on her personal battery. We were all with her at her bedside, telling her how much we loved her, telling her, "goodbye." It was hard, and yet I wouldn't have wanted to keep her here like that. Emphysema is slow and merciless. I wished her then, and wish her now a Good Journey.

It was the day after, Monday, that I learned from my brother just how really nuts her life had been. She lived as an almost total recluse-- I knew that. What I didn't know was, there were actual large family inheritances that she had turned down, for herself and for me and the step-kids! These were large legacies that could have changed all our lives for the better. There were other things, insurance settlements passed by, restitution for a failed business turned down... I was in shock for a few hours before I got really angry. My mother died in total destitution. And she didn't have to!!!!! She made huge financial decisions for me, without telling me!!! Not to mention that she still had minor children living at home. And too late then to ask why, what had she been thinking.

By Wednesday morning we had sorted things out to the extent that I could leave, so I drove back to Portland with a car full of tobacco contaminated paintings and books, double-wrapped in 2 mil giant plastic bags. (Soon I will be an expert at cleaning tobacco tar off of oil paintings!) If there is an afterlife, I sure hope Mom heard me yelling at her, all the way through Iowa and parts of Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon. It was very therapeutic, I'm sure, and also very good I was traveling alone.

We live in an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful country! If you ever get the chance to drive across it, do it! You will be amazed and delighted. My only 2 complaints about driving are that it is not considered an emergency stop to get out every 5 miles and take pictures, and that the vast majority of rest stops on I-80 and I-84 have 2-way mirrors!!! Their surveillance cameras now have great shots of me, flipping them off and throwing water at them. I'm sure the excuse is "safety", but the camera behind the mirror will not save anyone from any crimes, only record the crimes for later viewing. Grrrrrr! I hope they enjoyed watching me brush my teeth.

I decided at the last minute NOT to take my beadwork, after all. This was the right decision, it turned out. I would never have actually had the energy to work on anything there. I got in a very small amount of knitting, though, and that did wonders for my sanity. Of course, this leaves me to finish up July, start August, and maybe even get into September, as the Summer draws to a close. I'm truly inspired to jump back in, and will do so soon, once I catch up with a little paying work.

It was an amazing, sad, aggravating, scary, and wonderful trip. I am so glad that I was able to spend this last time with Mom. I do love her very much, even though her actions in life were truly crazy-making. I guess all parent/child relationships have their complications. We had to borrow against the unsold house to make the drive possible, but I have no real regrets, and there would have been a great many if I had stayed here.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Story So Far...

Here is more progress on the July page. There is so much drama and so many complications going on in my life right now, that I haven't been doing as much as I like. At the same time, I am very happy to work with the beads and sequins at this time. It really helps me keep my feet on the ground! It seems as though, the more out of control and weird my life gets, the more orderly my beadwork becomes.

I don't know when I'll be able to post next, as I'm about to take off on a cross-country drive to the Chicago suburbs to see my mom and see if I can be of help in straightening out a huge ball of family junk. Mom's terminal with emphysema, and there are a lot of complications about money, aid eligibility and the like. On top of that are adult step-children who seem to think they can get a lot of money by getting ahold of the house (which is NOT valuable--it's falling down, literally) and whatever else is lying around. There is one step-child who is with Mom and has been taking care of her. As far as I am concerned, if there is anything worth anything after all this is over, it should be his, and my main purpose of taking this trip, besides being with my mother, is to help him.

I'm driving because there is a large painting by my father I need to bring back with me, and also driving will allow me to pack some knitting, my beadwork (!!!) and my little ukulele. All of these will help keep me sane. Also, this is a chance for me to see our beautiful country. I hope that nothing happens in the next two days which will make it necessary for me to fly instead. I'll no doubt finish up July and maybe even start August while I'm gone, but I may not have access to a scanner, so y'all may not hear much from me for three or four weeks.

As for my selling my house adventure... well, nobody is buying our house, so I don't know what's next with that. That's something to be concerned about later.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

July - Part 2

I've made a little more progress, though not as much as I'd hoped. Life and The Simpsons Movie sort of jumped in my way. The sequins just won't photograph properly-- they are a bright red-violet with little hologram highlights. The rest of the colors are pretty close to reality, though. I wonder where it will take me next?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

July Page Started At Last

Here is the beginning of my July page. By now, there is less hubbub around the house, since we're no longer the new house that everyone has to see, so I have been able to get some beading done. Of course, all this has come in between reading the Harry Potter book! :-) I'm going for a more designy feel on this one, just letting it grow as it will.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Well, Maybe I Wasn't Really Finished...!

I woke up Thursday at 6am (having gone to bed at 2...), with a great idea to straighten out my diagonal lines. It worked, though took quite a bit of trial and error. Then a cat came along and wanted to be included... Anyway, this is the final version of my June page. It explains why I was having such a hard time starting July.

Monday, July 2, 2007


Here's the bead and sequin jewelry piece I was working on, finally finished up. I decided to turn it into a pendant and added a peyote stitch bale big enough to accommodate chains and necklaces of various sizes and widths. The backing is black ultra leather, which sews pretty well and is easy to keep clean. I had a lot of fun making this, and it went quickly, so I'll probably make some more of this kind of thing in the near future.

In my immediate future -- start the July page!

Friday, June 29, 2007

July Research Day

Tomorrow we are having a gardener come in to create order out of our helter-skelter lawn and overgrown back yard. This is all part of the plan to make our house even more wonderful looking, to attract buyers. I don't want to see all my lovely weeds cut back and so on, so I'm going to run away from home for the day and do some research for my July page. By "research," I mean looking at lots of pictures, art books, and galleries, and spending a lot of time in our beautiful main library downtown. I'm also going to go into the Button Emporium, which is very close to the library, and see if I can find one or two exceptional buttons to put onto the page (or maybe a future page...?). I know I said I didn't want to buy anything new for this project, but I have very, very few buttons of any kind, so I'm making an exception. I'm hoping that by the time I get back, all garden work will be done and I can just be in awe of my beautiful new yard. And ready to start my July page.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Not July Yet...

I didn't want to stop beading. But I'm not ready to start July just yet, as there are so very many things to do first. So I put this together for a pin or pendant to wear to an event that I ended up not going to. My husband likes it this way, and I do too, though I also like it sideways, with the green beads on top. So I don't know exactly how it will end up. I'll finish up either late tonight or sometime tomorrow when it's too hot to do anything else. it looks kind of simple this close up, but it's designed to look better from a distance. Also... sequins do not scan well at all I found out.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I'm essentially finished with my June page! It's different for me, for sure, but I guess it was time for a change.

It symbolizes, for me, growth, change, movement, beginnings, the sudden appearance of miracles or disasters (different sides of the same coin...), mysteries. I really have a lot to think about now! Overall, though it feels like a very optimistic piece.

I've no idea what to do for the July page, but I think I'll just put on a bead I love and go from there.

Monday, June 18, 2007

So, I'm starting to close in on the end. How did that happen? I'm now reluctant to pick it up-- I don't want it to be over! Of course, I can always start July, or work out a journal cover... I didn't think I would be this close to finishing so soon, though. There are still days left in the month.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Page 1 - Part 3

I was able to pick up a little faster than I thought, and added some art deco water. But then our power went out, and I found that beading in the dark is not so easy...! I may even finish this week, though probably I'm getting way ahead of myself. I do know I won't be working on this much today. We live unfortunately close to the local raceway, and there are big noisy cars running around in circles about a mile from here. They are LOUD!!!!! My husband and I are going to run away to find a quieter neighborhood where, hopefully, houses will be for sale in our price range. We do not want to settle close to the raceway again!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

BJP Page 1 - Part 2(?)

Well, here I am. It's very easy to bead myself into a corner, and I'm doing just that. I get to a point where I could logically stop, yet there are also dozens of possibilities where the piece could go on-- where it wants to go, maybe. Will I stop at the vertical line I've drawn, or keep going? I don't know if I want to keep the blue line around the left side. Among other things. So it's time to put it aside, and not look at it for a day or so. The indecision will resolve, and I'll know where to go next.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Earlier This Year...

Here's an example of how my work usually looks. It's called The Cradle of Stars, based on deep sky photographs from the Hubble Telescope. I'm usually going all over the place, with swirls, spirals, many colors, lots of movement. This is the last beaded piece I did before the BJP, I think I completed it sometime in January. Again, it is inexpertly scanned. One of the things I'll be getting better at over this year will be scanning--I hope. Of course, now that I've posted this, I can't cheat and pretend I did it for one of the upcoming months. D'oh!

Work In Progress - First Page, Pt. 1

Here's the first part of my first page, inexpertly scanned. Oddly, though my life is presently out of control in many, many directions, this is the most quiet and well-mannered piece I have ever done. I'm not sure what that's about, but it's interesting.

I started out with the green spiral bead, and it grew from that. I'm not sure whether it will stop at the left-hand curl, or keep growing out toward my thread border. I'm thinking to set a page size, and then mount the beadwork on that, so that the "live" beaded areas can vary a little in size within that framework. That way I don't have to be completely consistent as to image size, just in case the image wants to be larger or smaller.

It has been very calming and sane-making to stop and bead a few minutes every so often, and so far I'm making good progress. We'll see how it goes as things get more intense on the house front...