Monday, June 22, 2009

The Beads Sang!

First they whispered. Then they hummed. And then they sang. I let them. And then I joined in the music!

After the determination to grow in April and the need for control in May, in June the beads were free. They were happy and they sang. This is their song:

This piece was completely unplanned. It was spontaneous visual music. I picked the colors and just started.

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with Dye-na-Flow.

The beads are 15/0s, 11/0s, 8/0s, a couple of 6/0s, some triangles, a few cubes, some crystals, and absolutely no bugles.

The page is done almost entirely in the backstitch.

I used blue Nymo B thread. Nymo is my all time favorite. I use B or D, depending on the best color match.

What I Was Thinking:

I wasn't. I just let the beads sing, and I joined in their music.

Issues that Came Up:

I wanted to learn to use a curved needle so I could use it to bead dolls. I decided to try the curved needle on some flat beading on part of this page. That was a good idea. Now I am finding it very easy to use the curved needle on my doll.

After April and May, this page was amazingly relaxing to do.

It energized me. I heard the music, and I felt like dancing.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Tale of Four Busses: The Bus, The Replacement Bus, the Other Replacement Bus, and the Great Big Bus that Could!

It was a trip!

Part I: The Trip

On Wednesday I joined a group from the Grand Rapids Chapter of the American Sewing Guild for a trip to Chicago. Our first stop was the Textile Discount Outlet. We would then go to the Chicago History Museum to have lunch and see the Chic Chicago Exhibit. On the way home, we would stop at Hannah's in New Buffalo for dinner. This is a fun group, and I looked forward to the trip.

The bus started in Grand Rapids, but there was a stop along the lakeshore to pick up about 8 of us. This lakeshore stop meant that instead of leaving the house at 5:45 am to get to the other side of Grand Rapids, I could sleep in till 5:45 am and meet the bus at the Saugatuck commuter lot at 7:15. The lakeshore stop also meant that I would get home earlier--8:30 pm instead of 10:30 pm.

All went well until I saw the signs for the Saugatuck exit. That was when my oil light went on. Well, what do you do? I got off at the exit, pulled into the commuter lot and called my husband. If ever there was a time to delegate responsibility, this was it. After a few choice comments, he accepted the responsibility.

The bus pulled into the lot, and as I approached it I saw my husband driving down the road. We had a brief conversation through the car window as I stood in the light rain. We'd trade cars. But I didn't have a key for his car. (I had removed all unnecessary weight from my purse in preparation for the festivities.) He couldn't park his car without moving mine because all the spaces were full. Everyone else was on the bus. They were waiting for me. More delegation... I'll call from the restaurant on the way home.

We arrived at the Textile Discount Outlet before it opened. (Guess I could have done the car switcheroo after all.) The bus pulled around the block to park, and several travelers made an emergency stop at the Dunkin' Donuts on the corner. I resisted.

The Textile Discount Outlet is something else. Clearly it is not for everyone. To start with, it is not organized in what I would describe as a left-brained, sequential manner. And for the most part, prices are not marked. But for those of us who are on an adventure, who have a high tolerance for chaos, who are looking for the unexpected, and who have a good sense of direction so they can find their way out in an emergency, it's a blast. It's a mishmash of fabric, trimmings, notions, and remnants. No wonder it's known as The Dumpster Diving Place.

True confessions: I picked up three pieces of not-quite-UltraSuede to make jackets. It's really an almost upholstery weight moleskin. I also got some zippers, ribbon, and lace. And I found a treasure trove of Nymo thread. Most of it was very heavy weight, but I did find some cream D weight. The outer layer is a little dirty, but the rest is good.

Our next stop was the Chicago History Museum for lunch and a tour of the Chic Chicago exhibition. The exhibition featured gowns worn by prominent Chicago women from 1861 to 2008. If you are interested in fashion design, clothing construction, or the history of fashion, you will enjoy it. My assessment: Fabulous! There is nothing in the museum from Michelle Obama yet, but all of us predicted there will be soon.

Another fascinating exhibition showed the clothing and accessories of Bertha Honore Palmer, the most prominent woman in Chicago society in the late 19th century. She was known as the "Princess of the Prairie." If you read The Devil in the White City, you will remember Bertha Honore Palmer as the president of the Board of Lady Managers of the Columbian Exposition of 1893. One of the fascinating smaller pieces in the exhibit was a list of her purchases from Tiffany's during a five-month period. Over $107,000! Ladies and gentlemen, that's in turn-of-the-century dollars! $107,000!!!

The Chicago History Museum is an interesting little museum, and I would recommend it.

Part II: The Real Trip

It was 4:30 pm Central time, and the museum closed. There we were, 29 tired but happy women waiting on the sidewalk in front of the museum. And waiting. And waiting. No bus. And no cell phone number for the bus driver.

"He's run away with all our fabric," someone commented.

Our leader did have an emergency phone number for the bus company. After several calls and a 45 minute wait, we learned that the bus had broken down about six blocks from the museum. We decided to walk to the bus so we could at least sit down. Another bus was on the way from Someplace Else to pick us up. More waiting. We took advantage of the opportunity to have Show and Tell so we could all see what was purchased. That was fun. More waiting. The windows on the bus were propped open with empty water bottles. More cell phone calls. From everyone to everyone else at home. Some people were looking stressed.

Finally the Replacement Bus arrived. Yay! We grabbed our purchases and climbed onto the Replacement Bus. Charlie, our good-humored driver, started her up. Something was wrong. I don't know what except the word "air" was used over and over. The Replacement Driver got back on. He and Charlie had conversation about levers. I heard, "Really step on it...once you get going..." and little else. After about 15 minutes we went around the block. Apparently the problem continued. More cell phone calls. Lots more calls. More people were looking stressed, but everyone remained pleasant.

After a while a man in a blue cap and some sort of uniform knocked on the bus door. More conversation. More cell phone calls. And then a proposal surfaced: The 29 of us could squeeze into the Other Replacement Bus, a 24 passenger airport shuttle-type vehicle the man in the hat had parked across the street. More discussions. And a decision was made. We would take the Other Replacement Bus to our restaurant in New Buffalo, about a 90-minute ride. Still another bus would meet us there.

And so we did. The Other Replacement Bus may have had a sign on the outside that said Executive Transportation, but we weren't feeling like executives unless we were executives on the way to the clink. It was a little crowded three to a two-person seat, and the temperature controls were not the best--either hot and humid or absolutely freezing. But off we went. We may have been frozen, squished, hungry, and tired, but good humor prevailed.

And then the next issue: The restaurant closed at 10:00 pm Eastern time, and our estimated arrival time was a few minutes before 10:00. More cell phone calls. Should we try to get out of our pre-paid dinner? Should the driver of the fourth bus pick up the dinners to go? Or should we eat really, really fast at the restaurant? The restaurant manager agreed to stay open late, and we decided to eat at the restaurant.

As we pulled off the expressway into New Buffalo, we could see the fourth bus already there. Whew! We had a nice dinner at the restaurant, and the hot fudge sundaes really hit the spot. Everyone tried to call everyone else at home again, but most of us couldn't get a cell phone signal. Remember that if you ever go to New Buffalo. While we ate, the bus drivers transferred our belongings from the Other Replacement Bus to the fourth bus.

When everyone finished, the leaders did a head count to make sure everyone was on the bus. Oh, no! Only 28! Who is missing? Where is C? Is she in the restroom? She had joked about using the men's room because of the long line in the women's room (all us, as everyone else had left). Is she ill? Did she fall in the dark? Did she call her husband to come and pick her up? Where could she go? The leaders went back to the restaurant and searched the place. No C. Then they started walking around the grounds. Everyone was getting quite worried. And then a voice from the back of the bus: "C's back here." How could we have missed her? Because of two things--she's relatively short and not easily seen over the bus seats and she's somewhat hard of hearing so she missed the commotion. Finally, we were on our way home.

The Great Big Bus That Could arrived at the Saugatuck stop just after midnight. After finding the car key my husband had hidden, I drove home. At the very last stoplight before I got home, I was behind a police car. I could imagine the officer looking in his rear view mirror at me and thinking, "That woman should not be driving at this hour." He would have been right.

As I pulled into our garage at 12:30 am, my husband opened the door. "I'm back," I said.

"I hope you're not planning to do that again," he replied.

"Oh, yes, I am," I responded. "It was a blast!"


The Bus was towed to the bus garage.
The Replacement Bus was driven to the garage--slowly.
The Other Replacement Bus went back to Indiana.
The Great Big Bus that Could got us home.

My car is sick, and it has an appointment at the auto hospital with Dr. Leo on Tuesday.

The leader of this event left Friday to spend 10 days in Hawaii. She may need it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Round Robin Birthstone Doll

My Birthstone Round Robin Doll is on its way to Colorado to visit and be beaded by someone else. Before she comes home, she will have also visited Florida and Australia. Pretty cool, I'd say. I am wondering why she didn't invite me along. I've never been to Colorado or to Australia.

My birthstones are pearl, moonstone, and alexandrite. Since I couldn't find a definitive explanation of what alexandrite was like (other than very expensive and named after Russian Tsar Alexander II), I decided to use pearl and moonstone.

After a certain amount of dithering (described here), I decided to stick with the light blue color scheme. I'll use the peach, white, cream and gray beads for something else.

Here she is from the front:

And here she is from the back:

She is about one-quarter beaded.

Note: No bloging tomorrow. I'm going to Chicago to "The Dumpster Diving Place." More on that this weekend. Please, somebody hold the rope tied to my foot as I go in!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude Award

Pam T nominated me for the Attitude of Gratitude Award. I'm humbled, and I've taken a while to meditate on what that means. I was surprised to discover that all my pages in this year's Bead Journal Project represent things for which I am grateful.

I realized that my gratitude for the things in my life grew as I faced and reflected on a scary time. That scary time is shown in my October page, Not Quite Pink. It also shows the first thing I am grateful for--good health.

I could not do without family and friends, my pages for March and February. I am glad that I have enough so I can share with others (November).

I am grateful that I can find the sparkles in the dark night (December) and resilience (January) in facing problems. I am grateful that I can choose to grow (April) and that I enjoy new adventures (September). I am grateful that I can maintain order and I am grateful that I can let things just flow (coming in June).

I am grateful for music that makes me want to dance. And for time to learn and create. And for the opportunity to help others. And for chocolate. I am grateful to be happy.

And I am grateful to have met some wonderful people through the BJP. I nominate Sandy for the Attitude of Gratitude Award because she is so generous, thoughtful and kind, even when she had stressful times in her own life. She saw where help would be welcome, and she provided that help. I admire her. And she does some really great art!

Here are the rules of the Attitude of Gratitude Award. I hope you will accept it, Sandy.

Rules of Accepting and Sharing the Attitude of Gratitude Award
Put the logo on your blog or post.
Nominate a few bloggers that show an attitude of gratitude.
Link to your nominees within your post.
Comment on their blogs to let them know they've received this award.
Share the love and link to this post and the person who nominated you for the award.
Tell us how you've come to have an attitude of gratitude

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Weekend in Wisconsin, Part One: Race for the Cure

We spent a long weekend in Madison, Wisconsin, visiting our daughter. We timed the visit so we could participate in the Komen Race for the Cure. When I hit the 5-year mark, our daughter, who had never been a runner, revealed that she had been training for several months to run in the Race for the Cure. We have been participating ever since. She runs, we walk.

We left her house on time. Many other people left their houses on time, too. But we all got stuck on the exit ramp of the Beltline. There was nothing to do but to sit there waiting until it was our turn to exit. Well, except for the guy who was a very determined runner. We saw him get out of his car (apparently driven by someone else), run up the ramp, across the bridge, and on to the Alliant Energy Center.

Eventually we arrived, although later than anticipated. This meant that we had less time to spend out in the drizzle. We also missed the Survivor picture. Worst of all, the pink plastic superheroine capes were gone by the time we got to the sponsor area. Drat! I spent the rest of the morning with Cape Envy. It still stings. With a pink plastic superheroine cape, I could have walked very fast. Very, very fast. This is what a cape looks like. Very cool, isn't it? And very powerful, I'm sure.

The weather was cool and drizzly before the race began. By the time it started, the drizzle had stopped, and it was overcast with just a few minutes of sunshine. I borrowed a long sleeved shirt from my daughter to wear under my race shirt. This was our fastest walk ever. To start with, we were closer to the front of the masses of walkers. There were more than 11,000 runners and walkers and more than 900 Survivors. Once we got past the strollers and wagons (who were supposed to be in the short walk), we kept passing people all along the way. Our daughter, who had finished well before us, found us as we approached the finish line. She and I were able to run across the finish line together, as we did last year. (Photo cropped to protect the innocent.)

I was honored to walk in celebration of Pam T, a Wisconsin online beading buddy who will soon complete her treatment. She is an amazing and brave woman and she deserves to be celebrated. She must have her own superheroine cape. To Pam T., I say, "You go, Girl!"

But I still have Cape Envy.