Monday, April 21, 2014

GOOSE TAILS


 
Our snowbirds are back.  Each Spring for the last 3 years we've had a pair of Canadian Geese come to nest on our neighbor's tiny island. 
 
 
By now everyone in our neighborhood is familiar with them and I casually refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. G. (G for Goose- or Geese).    On occasion I call them C.G. - (Canadian Goose - or Geese) but that's for formal introductions only. 
 
Photo above  - Mrs. G. in her well feathered
nest.  Looks like she has some well chosen words for the
paparazzi !
 
The first year Mr. and Mrs. G. protected a clutch of about 6 eggs, only 4 of which hatched.  Unfortunately the last gosling to come out of its shell was somehow injured and our neighbors had to call Wildlife Management to come capture it and take it to a qualified veterinarian.  If you're interested you can read about that nesting  HERE and HERE. 

We never found out exactly what happened to the tiny gosling, if it did or did not survive.  Since it was not returned to its small family flock we can only assume that it could not be rehabilitated but we wish to believe that perhaps it is living comfortably in some type of sanctuary for handicapped wildlife, happily well-fed and lovingly cared for. 

Last year Mr. and Mrs. G. nested but none of their eggs were viable and after several grueling weeks spent incubating them Mrs. G. finally gave up and abandoned her nest.  She and her mate waddled about our neighbor's yard for a week or so and then, without much ado, departed.  

 I never quite understood just where Mr. and Mrs. G. go . . . I mean, if they come to South Florida for the summer then where to they reside in the winter ?  Do they fly further south to winter in Cancun, Cozumel or Puerto Vallarta ?  Do they waddle around some posh resort nibbling on tapas and sipping frozen corn-mush Margaritas ?  Can you picture Mrs. G. paddling around a pool in a shocking pink bikini?  Or Mr. G. sprawled out on a chaise lounge wearing his Foster Grant sunglasses ? 

They have returned now, for their third year, and once again Mrs. G. has made her nest on the island.  Always she chooses the same spot.  However I think this year she must be especially irritable as Mr. G. tends to keep his distance,  we often find him either browsing in our back yard or napping under the shade of the huge old oak trees at the back of our property. 
 
 
However he is quick to return to be close to his mate if anyone happens to stray outside, and he always joins Mrs. G. for a late afternoon swim around their pond. 

 
Will this year bring forth any fluffy, little goslings ? 



We will just have to wait and see as Mrs. G. isn't about to tell.  :)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ugly Necklace Contest


At Land of Odds it's that time again.  Time to prepare for their Ugly Necklace Contest. 

Making pretty is . . . well, pretty easy.  Making Ugly, now that's a different story.  You'd be surprised at how truly difficult that challenge can be.

What goes into an Ugly Necklace ?  Anything you want (plus a lot of imagination).  There was even a designer that created a necklace with fluffed out tampons as its focal components.  Yeah, so anything goes.  lol

Head on over and take a look - you may find inspiration - if not, then at least you'll get a good laugh.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hooked Up on Hooks


A blog reader contacted me wanting to know how I made the fancy  shaped links in the "Hook and Eye" necklace.  So I am trying to clarify that some links were Clasp Hooks to begin with. 
I used  my ever trusty Wubbers, bail making pliers to close the open part of the hook, creating a unique link.  One hook was left unchanged  for use as a clasp . . . which is its original purpose.
Ready made Shepherd's hook clasps (photo above and below) were used to construct many of the links in my Hook & Eye necklace.  One hook was left unchanged and used as a closure.
 
 
In my supplies I had a few figure 8 links but not nearly enough to fashion a chain from.
Wanting a fairly long chain meant that improvising would be required, so I constructed a number of  stylized infinity links to get the length needed.  I made some of these links large and some small to create a bit of variety and add interest to the chain. 
All links were then put together using 5 mm x 18 gauge, gold plated brass jump-rings .  Hope this made sense as I wasn't sure how to explain it without creating an overly long, and perhaps boring, blog tutorial.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hooks and Eyes


 
Besides the rag rug I've been preoccupied making other things, such as this matching chain and earrings set.
There is naturally a story behind these pieces and like most stories this could be a long one so I'll try to condense it as best I can.
Some time around 2010 my etsy shop went from being an unsuccessful jewelry shop, to being a mediocre jewelry making supplies shop. 
Back then the etsy forums was a busy place and the busiest of the forums was Promotions.  Forget speeding bullets,  Promo threads came and went faster than Superman himself, therefore many threads fell by the roadside unnoticed like so much road kill.

One day I spotted a Promo thread that was a genuine plea.  The poster had a small etsy jewelry supply shop that she wished to close and she was clearing out the last dribs and drabs of her inventory.  The few items she had left were grouped together in one lot and drastically discounted, the price had been slashed to the bone and items were below cost . . . she was desperate. Unfortunately no one had time to read her post as they were all too busy playing the Buy and Stay, Buy and Replace, Give and Take or whatever happened to be the hottest rock-em-sock-em promo threads going.  (I later learned that those threads were perpetuated by groups of shops and they worked together to keep their threads at the top of the forum.)
Anyway I could not help but feel sorry for the shop that posted its going out of business thread and so I contacted the shop's owner and informed her that I was interested in purchasing her lot of odds and ends.   Much of it I really did not need but I felt an empathy with her situation and knew firsthand how it felt to be invisible in the promo forum.
One item in this lot of supplies was a bag of gold-plate shepherd hook clasps. 
Over the years I've used a few of them but still had a number left.   Then I got this idea to create a necklace using the hooks and the eyes along with a number of my own handmade links.  There are various colors of gold in this chain, some darker, looking a bit like antique gold, and some a paler, lighter yellow gold but I think it all works well together.  I even saved 2 of the Shepherds hooks to make a pair of matching earrings.

Maybe I'm dorky but I think they're kind of cute. :D

Friday, April 11, 2014

From Rags to Rugs


Photo above - Old rag rug
 
I've been keeping busy.  Unfortunately it hasn't been with blogging. 

Many years ago I purchased a rag throw rug to place on the floor in front of my kitchen sink.  It wasn't much to look at but it was durable and well made and it has lasted through what must be at least a thousand washings. 

Though it was getting tired and worn I could find nothing as nice to replace it with.  I looked in the home improvement stores and in the home goods sections of a number of department stores but nothing could match the homey, little, old  rag rug. 

Photo above - Close-up of one of the many well worn areas.
 
At a big home improvement store we did find a few woven, rag rugs but the fabric strips were in psychedelic colors of  caution tape orange, neon chartreuse, hot pink and tomato red.  Not exactly the color scheme of my kitchen and not the look I was going for, so I opted not to buy and to just keep looking.

Normally my hubby doesn't get involved in matters that concern the interior of the home, unless it pertains to repairs, like a dripping faucet.  His domain is the garage and that is his haven to do and decorate as he wishes.  However, for some odd reason, he ran across a display of rag, throw rugs and decided to purchase one for me.  Said rug was approximately a foot too long and 18 inches too wide, it contained several "odd" strips of fabric in neon orange and tooth rattling chartreuse . . . not to mention the occasional violet-purple, goldenrod, vivid turquoise blue, and  Mexican salsa red !  Those colors probably would not have been so glaring had there not been so much black thrown in with it - the stark contrast made the neon strips stand out even more dramatically.


It's the thought that counts so I tried to accept his purchase graciously. 
I placed the rug on the floor in front of the kitchen sink and tried to ignore it.  It was like trying to ignore a hangnail, or an eyelash that's fallen into your eye . . . it couldn't be done.  Then I decided to wash it (perhaps hot water and detergent would soften the colors or at least shrink it some.  When I removed it from the washer the rug was no longer rectangular.  I'm not sure what the shape was but let's just say that all the stripes were no longer straight but careened up and down the rug like drunken sailors.  Trying to straighten it out, I realized that the rug was very poorly made (but then for $5.95 what else could I expect?) and that the whole thing needed to be remade (oh joy ! - said sarcastically).

In my mind I thought it would be a simple and quick project to take the rag rug apart and reweave it.  WHAT THE BLAZES WAS I THINKING ? 
I began the project 4 weeks before Christmas, thinking I'd have it done well before the holidays,  I finished it 3 months later (and yes, I worked on it every single day).   
Photo above - the rug canvas that I found at Michael's and some of the vibrant fabric strips that were taken from the new rag rug.

Photo above - work in progress, the remaking of the new rag rug. Here the rug is about 95% complete, too bad I didn't think to take a "before" photo showing the rug with all its black background and its jarring stripes of psychedelic colors. 
 
The canvas netting  I used was designed for latch hook rugs and so the squares would not accommodate some of the wider strips of fabric, therefore many strips had to be cut down to make them narrower.  All the strips had to be ironed and folded and ironed again before they could be tediously woven through the netting.  Then there were the edges of the rug canvas that had to be reinforced and finished off neatly so the whole rug would not come apart in its next laundering. It would have been easier, if not faster, to have made a brand new rug from scratch.
 
In honesty I know I would not attempt this again as the canvas netting was very stiff and rough,  it abraded my knuckles to the point that I had to resort to wearing a pair of thick cotton gloves . . . have you ever tried to weave something wearing gloves ?  Awkward !
 

Though I left a few strips of the black and the dark navy blue fabric the newly rewoven rug looks a lot brighter than before its remake.
 

Photos above - So there it is.  Maybe not the best or the most beautiful rag rug, but it is done and it is on the floor doing its job.
 
Have you ever had one of those projects that you got involved with and then wished you had never started ? 
 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

So Far So Good -

Familiar picture of the Clampett clan from The Beverly Hillbillies.
 
I wish to thank all of you for your kind comments and your comforting support.  It was and is greatly appreciated.
At present things are on an even keel with my daughter and son-in-law.  Much like two kids on a teeter-totter where neither child is up or down.
It wasn't long ago that my daughter, Kathi, had another meltdown.  She was tired and frustrated with being the only one trying to salvage their marriage.  She felt that no matter what she did,  no matter how hard she tried, her spouse seemed to think it was not enough.  Frankly, she was exasperated and didn't know what to do next.
Through her tears she mentioned that maybe she should just pack up and move out as that seemed to be what her husband wanted.  I was the first to nix the idea.  "No" I stressed firmly.  "You stay put.  The house is home to your children and they need their home and their mother.  If anyone should leave it should be him, not you."   John, my loving hubby, backed me on this and told her not to move out.
Naturally we went through her drama of self-doubts, doubting her abilities and her strengths.  I reassured her that she would find the courage to get through this and if it came down to divorce she would find the strength to continue on without her so-called, soul-mate.
After she left to return home, she got to thinking and the more she thought, the madder she became.  When she got home she stormed into the house and began emptying out the closets and drawers of all of her hubby's clothing,  she went throughout the house finding his personal belongings and threw all of his possession into the bed of his pickup truck.  When she was done his truck was piled high with almost everything he owned . . . it looked like a Hillbilly moving truck . . . shades of the Clampett family on The Beverly Hillbillies.
When her husband got home and saw his truck, he barged into the house yelling; "What the f _ _ _ is going on?"  
Kathi explained, "Well you wanted this.  You were the one that wants us to split, so there's your stuff.  You're free to leave."
His response was adamant; " I'm not leaving !"   To which Kathi answered, " Well don't expect me to move out!  This is my home and the children's home and I'm sure as hell not packing up all my stuff and all of the kids belongings and moving out. Since you're the one that wants out. . . there you go."
Visibly shaken he replied, "Go where?"  and Kathi said, "I haven't a clue.  You're the one with a plan so go follow your plan."
By now he realized he was in deep poop and stammered, "Plan?  I have no place to go!   I don't have a plan! "
Calm and undaunted Kathi shrugged, "Well mister, looks like you need to come up with a plan then."
Flustered he conceded, " I think we need to sit down and talk this over."
And so began a serious conversation between the two.   Kathi has asked him to go to a counselor, telling him it did not have to be the one she is going to.  He can pick the counselor of his choice or go to a church clergy.   
When Kathi had her next  counselor appointment, she told her about what she had done and how it had turned out.  Her counselor was quite shocked and said what Kathi did had been very risky and that the outcome could have turned out detrimentally different.
Presently Kathi and her husband are each making concessions and for now the teeter-totter seems to be in balance.  I'm hoping it will stay that way.  We will see.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Life's Ups and Downs

Since my last blog post life has been a volatile roller coaster ride of emotions for my daughter.  One day optimistic, the next . . . not so much.

 About a month ago, or more,  I actually wrote a post about how things were looking up.  My daughter, Kathi, had begun seeing a marriage counselor.  Even though her husband refused to attend the sessions, she went alone.  Kathi was encouraged and optimistic, the counselor told her she was fairly certain that her husband was simply suffering from a case of Mid-Life-Crisis and that Kathi's marriage could be saved.

Well to make a long post somewhat shorter- I had not finished that particular post but had saved it in drafts to complete after dinner that day.   As I was washing up the dinner dishes Kathi drove up and knocked on our door.  Because I was up to my elbows in hot, soapy water, John, her daddy answered the door.  Kathi did not say a word but just collapsed into his arms in a flood of tears. 

It took us almost 15 minutes to get her over to the sofa to sit down and calm down enough to tell us what was happening.  Fortunately it wasn't that her husband had filed for divorce or even that he had packed a bag and left.  She was totally frustrated, feeling like she was trying so hard to save their marriage and getting nowhere.  To her it felt as though she was putting in all the effort and nothing she did was good enough.  She thought it was hopeless and she didn't know how she could or would go on without him.  She couldn't fathom how, after so many years, he would be so quick to throw it all away and she had no idea how she could go on by herself.

Immediately I told her, that somehow she would make it, she would manage, that she was strong, much stronger than she realized, and that she would survive.  Many women have and  many women do and will go on without their life-long mates.  The world does not end because of divorce or even death.  Life goes on.  It may be a long road but with each day the path gets a little easier, the pain a little less and soon the sun comes out again to brighten our lives.

If she believed me or not - well that's another story.  She wiped her eyes, gave us hugs and then left to return to her own home and her children.

So much for my optimistic blog post, I deleted it shortly after she left.
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