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the beauty of spring

Posted: April 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: garden, life, nature | Comments Off on the beauty of spring

Spring, finally. Real spring, not simply calendar spring (the advent of which is usually followed by at least one snowfall). Spring for me is the day the daffodils pop open, this year coinciding with the day the “Nana plants” start to bloom. (“Nana plants” because Nana had a lot of them, and some of those offshoots have made it through a number of years and a number of gardens to my own garden, and I can’t ever remember the real name of this pretty, spready plant with the cool leaves and pretty white flowers.)

Nana would have been 104 this week. Papa would have been 103 last week. We buried Aunt Vera, Papa’s sister, earlier this week, at age 93, the last of her generation that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. My family tends to live good, long lives, full of adventures and opinions and guts and general good health. I hope I’m as lucky.

Love of the garden runs in the family, too. When I was a kid, a visit to a family member’s house also meant a walk around the garden to see what was blooming and what was thriving and what was next up — and it is still so. We pass around cuttings and divisions and help fill in each other’s gardens with the bounty and overgrowth from our own. Our garages harbor rafts of extra pots and trays to throw in the trunk of the car to capture a cousin’s unruly hosta or an aunt’s choking iris.

I was thrilled with the progress I had made on my little gardens at my little house; here in the bigger house there are more gardens to fill, in worse condition to start with. There’s so much to do that it can be overwhelming, so this year I’m focusing on only three smallish areas: digging out the rest of the invasive vine from the little hill next to the driveway (started last year); the garden around the back patio; and the little garden right outside my office window, which is the one I see for most of the day most every day. That latter is actually part of my plan for my office. Since I spend so much time looking out those windows during my workday, I think that garden should be particularly nice.

And because today is such a lovely day for work in the garden, I think it’s time to get to it.

tidbits: snow day edition

Posted: February 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: critters, life, nature, weather, work | Comments Off on tidbits: snow day edition

I’m calling my own snow day today. The snow is blowing sideways and it looks just miserable out there, so I’m going to hibernate and not go anywhere. The author proofs I was expecting to receive yesterday didn’t arrive — not sure if UPS gave up after the snow started yesterday afternoon or if they were just delayed, so there’s no editing work that can’t wait until Monday. I’m still fighting the headache from yesterday, and I think I slept wrong, since my neck is really stiff. I’m declaring today a day for puttering and flitting from this to that as the whim strikes.

I started out with catching up on the women’s figure skating from last night. The winner totally blew the others out of the water — just gorgeous! My husband will be thrilled that the skating is over, though, if only because it will stop me from yelling “Shut up, Scott Hamilton!” at the TV until 2014. (Seriously, someone get to work on the technology whereby one can turn off the inane and negative commentary and hear only the music. You’ve got four years: GO!)

The rest of the day, who knows?

Our little white friend over there walked right by my office window the other day. I grabbed the camera, opened the front door, and took that shot a split second after he started to take off. His coloring is called skewbald, and it is caused by a genetic variation. Originally, I thought we had three different skewbald deer, but in looking at earlier photos, this one, which I thought was a female, has the same exact pattern as a one-antlered male I photographed a few weeks ago. (I didn’t know until today that deer lose their antlers over the winter and grow new ones in the spring.) I can’t lay my hands on the photos we took of the one with the huge rack of antlers soon after we moved in, but now I’m curious if it’s the same one after all.

tidbits: extra tidbit-y edition

Posted: October 23rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: art, classes, Cleveland Handmade, house, nature | 1 Comment »

giveaway-virtualloriI’m giving away a custom stamped and domed sterling silver pendant in this week’s Cleveland Handmade giveaway. Just visit the Cleveland Handmade website for information on how to enter.

Six yards of mulch was delivered on Monday; after four hours Monday afternoon, five hours Tuesday afternoon, and five hours yesterday, it’s all been placed where needed. In truth, I could have used another yard or two for some other spots. But I’m done with mulch for the year.

The leaves have been glorious this week, but today they’re coming down so thick and fast, it’s almost like a blizzard. I’m wondering if there will be any left on the trees at the end of the weekend.

I had a great group for my etching class on Wednesday night. I love it when my students can relax and have fun with each other.

Two more days to iPhone. Two more days to iPhone. Two more days to iPhone.

tidbits: turkey edition

Posted: October 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: art, critters, editing, life, nature, tidbits | 5 Comments »

surpriseThanksgiving might be a little difficult for me this year.

I took a little break from a book I’m working on to take some photos of the changing leaves for a friend who lives in Hawaii but misses the fall colors on the mainland. (The colors are just spectacular in the rain.) I was working my way around the back of the house when I turned the corner and found my turkey friends in the herb garden, snacking on some worms or bugs or something in the freshly turned soil. I was almost on top of them before I noticed them (see how they’ve got that sneaky dirt-colored camouflage thing happening?), and one of them actually started to approach me. I snapped a few pictures, then switched to the movie setting and followed them around the yard for a few moments. You can hear the low sounds they make in the video, something between a gurgle and a bark.

They weren’t quite sure what to make of the fence; the other end of the fence by the gazebo isn’t quite so low to the ground, and they’re able to easily duck underneath down there. And it occurs to me with Halloween approaching that the clip of them near the playhouse might make a good horror film — the scale makes them look ten feet tall.

tingeofyellowThe herb garden is right up against the kitchen window, which now that I think about it explains the mysterious knocks I’ve heard a couple times today when there’s been no one at the door. At the last office job I had, the turkeys would come right up to the window and peck at their reflections, and it sounded like someone knocking. Mystery solved.

In other news, I have a nice stream of projects coming in, a good mix of scholarly and fun, light and bring-on-the-machetes, quick and long term. I really am a project person; I thrive on being able to work on something and then put it away as done. I don’t do so well in environments where you have to do the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Or I have to work really hard to find some way to make each iteration different somehow.

redmapleI had a great time with the Cloth•Paper•Scissors Studio Tour last weekend. I visited every one of the stops on the tour and found something interesting or cool or beautiful or inspiring or otherwise worth my time at every one. And I found some intriguing new blogs in the process, too. (If you didn’t get a chance to take my studio tour, it’s the October 2, 2009, entry.)

And speaking of new blogs, Chris of Copper Leaf Studios is doing a wonderful job with her new-ish blog. She has such a wonderful sense of humor and writing style, and her personality shines right through. Give her a visit if you haven’t yet.

Studio Tour

Posted: October 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: art, jewelry, nature | 36 Comments »

Welcome! The fine people over at Cloth•Paper•Scissors Studios magazine put out a call for studio tours, so here we are. I love browsing through all the studios in this magazine for storage and organization ideas, and just to see the artists’ personalities shine through in their work spaces.

My space is not yet quite so evolved. We’ve been in this house for not quite two years now, and I still keep shuffling things around and experimenting with new arrangements.


(See a larger version of this photo with notes over at Flickr.)

My studio space is a “bonus room” in the middle of the rear of the second floor, nestled between the master bedroom on one side and another bedroom (which we use as an exercise room) on the other. There’s a short hallway that leads to the main hallway, too. This is what you see when you first walk in from the master bedroom. My work table is the L-shaped office desk from our old condo. Eventually I will upgrade it, but for now it works. My everyday tools live within arm’s reach, and I move things around as I need to to handle different projects. I have a worktable in the garage for doing messy things, like drilling metals.

The previous owners used this space as a kind of sitting room/office. I absolutely love the light in here, which comes from two skylights and two sliding doors that face west and overlook the woods that make up the back of our property.


This is basically the view from my desk. In a week or two, most of those leaves will turn a brilliant golden yellow. We have several species of woodpeckers that frequent our woods, in addition to a ton of other birds and wildlife. In good weather, it’s wonderful to work with the doors open and the breeze coming in and the sounds of wildlife (when I haven’t opted to crank the stereo).


For now, in addition to the messy, messy shelves you see in the first picture (I didn’t do any cleanup before I took these photos, so you’re seeing the studio in its natural state), I’m using these shallow plastic drawers for storage of beads, wire, and a few tools I don’t use all the time. Eventually the shelves and these drawer units will be replaced with wooden cabinets; it just hasn’t been a high priority this year. Chris at Copper Leaf Studios and I got the same idea right about the same time that the shallow closet organizer drawers from Ikea would make great studio organizers, but she actually acted on the idea, whereas I’m still dreaming about it. (You can see her studio here. See how much nicer that looks than my piled-up shelf mess?) On top of the organizer, you can see the lower part of the mannequin I use for product shots for my Etsy shop.


I keep my bead drawers sorted by type, then by color. I use more Czech and other glass than any other kind of bead, so a number of drawers are dedicated just to them. This is my green drawer. I have a combination of plastic vials (from Fire Mountain Gems) and plastic jars (from a variety of places) in a few different sizes.


Lately I’ve started working more with gemstones and other natural materials. I like to buy this type of material in person so I can see exactly what I’m getting, so I go to a couple of gem shows every year and also shop my local bead stores. The Rings & Things Wholesale Bead Tour is one that I save up for, and they just came through here last week. This is a closeup of a corner of what I got there. I’ve been really busy since then and haven’t had a chance to play with any of it yet, but hope to this weekend.


garnetrain1Here are a few pieces in progress. I do a bunch of etching all at once to create the background pieces. I don’t usually do any sketches or plan out a piece much beforehand, but simply lay out an assortment of things on my work table and see what works well together until I come up with something like my Garnet Rain necklace, shown here. I’ve been really drawn to mother of pearl lately, so I’ll end up using these buttons somehow in at least one of these pieces.


I work in publishing, and I have a great love of books, so I keep a stash of them and subscribe to a number of art magazines to consult for information and inspiration. This little bookcase shows about half of the selection. A larger bookcase is on my wishlist.

Earlier this week I started working through The Wish Kit from Inspired Home Office, which has been really helpful in guiding my thinking about how to reorganize and personalize my studio space, in addition to my office. (My office, where I do my computer work and my editorial work, is in a different room downstairs.) I’m looking forward to putting the things I’m figuring out into place over the next few months.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my creative world, and I hope you’ll stop back again. If you have some time, check out some of the other studios on the tour. (Shannon Okey of Knitgrrl Studios is listed right above me in the list, and she’s got a great space in an old warehouse here in Cleveland.)

tidbits: blustery edition

Posted: September 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: art, nature | 2 Comments »

[Hi! If you’re here looking for the studio tour, head on over to my second October 2 post, or just click on the “virtuallori” banner above to be taken to the main page so you can see all the recent entries, including the tour. Many of the links in the tour list over at Cloth•Paper•Scissors Studios are pointing to the specific entries where people announced they’d be taking part, not the actual studio tours.]

redspotFall is definitely here. Outside my office window, the trees are bending in the wind, and leaves litter the ground. A few of the trees have already turned — one especially beautiful red maple is in my line of sight if I lean over to the right — and the rest have that anticipatory look, you know, the one that says that by this time next week, or perhaps the week after, I’ll be surrounded by the golden glow of the changed leaves.

Mom was going to join me again this morning to continue our assault on the evil, invasive chameleon plant that is creating such havoc on the slope next to the driveway, but it is just too wet out there to make any progress. I tried digging some on my own yesterday, but couldn’t do much since the soil wouldn’t crumble away, and we’ve had another inch or so of rain since then. It’s going to be years before we’re able to get rid of it all, but it’s choking other stuff out and getting into the grass, so it’s got to go.

5670.StudiosFall09I’ll be participating in the Cloth•Paper•Scissors Open Studio event on October 3; join me here for a little peek inside my studio.

hey, turkey!

Posted: June 25th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: critters, house, nature | 6 Comments »

Just call our neighborhood Wild Kingdom.

The latest addition to the menagerie, following the pack of coyotes who used the ravine behind our house as a highway for a couple of weeks (but now seem to have moved on), is a mother turkey and her two chicks. Witness:

hey, turkeys!

This photo was taken from my office window. The little path that runs alongside that part of the house is a well-trodden route for them.

The mother will let me get about ten feet away before she starts to show signs of protectiveness.

We first saw the turkeys two weeks ago, and in that time the babies have really grown and the mother is starting to let them wander a little ways away from her.

My neighbor tells me she saw the tom last week, although I have not seen him.

My little camera takes video, although it’s not very high-res. But if you care to share in my fascination in watching them as they eat the seeds off the tall grass, here you go:

summer’s end

Posted: August 8th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: art, Etsy, jewelry, nature, weather | Comments Off on summer’s end

Hard to believe it’s August already. The marching band is practicing at the high school, my niece and nephew start school in a couple weeks (one friend‘s kid has started school already), I’m making hot tea and wearing a fleece pullover today… Just not quite prepared for this time of year yet.

Sunday will be my last summer show of 2008, the North Olmsted Juried Arts & Crafts Show at Frostville Museum in the Metroparks in North Olmsted. The show itself is a small one and, sadly, not terribly well publicized, but the setting is just lovely — plenty of nature and nearby hiking — and there will be food and music. And, as a bonus, it’s not supposed to be blazingly hot that day, either.

This show will be the last chance for a bunch of items that have been following me around from show to show for a little too long now. These older necklaces and bracelets don’t quite fit in with the direction I’ve been going lately, so they will all be half price at the show this Sunday. After that, they’re going to be taken apart for parts to rework or sell off in the Etsy supply shop I’ve started but haven’t stocked yet.


Posted: February 22nd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: nature, photos | 1 Comment »

Gretchen has some wonderful photos of Wednesday night’s lunar eclipse up. We had a beautiful view here from the edge of the woods, too.