Friday, October 24, 2014

The Matilija Poppy

These are the last of the photos that my sister took for me. 

 I saved the lovely white Matilija Poppies for last as they are one of my favorite wildflowers.  When I was in high school one of my teachers said they were Mariposa Poppies but I have learned (from both my sister Camille and my sister Norma) that these poppies are unique to the Matilija area  and are named after the area of their origin; Matilija (pronounced ma-til’li-ha).   The plants can reach up to 8 feet tall and boast large snow white blooms with vivid yellow centers.
They have become a lucrative plant for local nurserymen to propagate and ship to other municipalities that wish to include these lovely, papery white blooms into their landscape.

Notice the large seed pods of the Matilija poppy plant?

The large blossoms range from 6 to 9 inches across and are not only impressive in size but command attention with their ruffled white petals and sunshine yellow center.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Still Up In the Air

Photo above - Though Scotch Brooms stand out in the background a soft, purple flowered shrub dominates the left, lower corner of the above photo.
We're still winding our way along the curving Maricopa highway, making our way up the Topa Topa mountains above Ojai, California.  My last post featured the bright yellow to yellow orange, Scotch Brooms, this post will feature purple and blue/purple wildflowers.  Unfortunately I'm not knowledgeable about their names and even though my sister told me what many were called, I confess that I quickly forgot their names.  So if you know any of their names please feel free to let me know in a comment.
Photos below are of the one purple plant that I'm familiar with: the Lupine.

The photos that follow are of some sweet little purple wildflowers and some flowers that are more of a blue color.  Both are very pretty and I've no idea what they are called, I should have written their names down when Camille told me but just like spare batteries for my camera, I did not have pen, pencil or paper on hand.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Twists and Turns

photo above - the two lane Maricopa highway leading up through the mountains from Ojai California to Taft. It was a crystal clear day and the yellow blossoms of the Scotch Brooms looked sharp and brilliant against the green mountains and bright blue sky - a perfect day for a drive.
As I mentioned in the last post, the batteries in my camera died, we were a good 30 miles away from town and I hadn't brought spare batteries with me.  However my sister, Camille, volunteered to take some photos with her smartphone and then email me the pictures. So following are some of the pictures she so graciously took for me.  Thank you Cami.  :)


The Maricopa highway twists and turns through beautiful, rugged mountains.  Scotch Brooms bloomed along side of the paved road, making me feel like we were a bridal procession cruising down a flower bedecked isle.  The Scotch Broom is considered a weed and seems to prefer the disturbed soil near the edge of the roadsides.

Photo above - Managed to find a blooming yucca that was close enough to the road to get a good shot of.
Photo below - Saw this unusually flat boulder and had to get a photo of it.

Photo below - Had to get a shot of the looming mountains and the valley below. 
To fully appreciate this vista I encourage you to click on the photo to view it more closely.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hidden Falls

photo above - Mountain ravine with waterfall.

Remember that trip my hubby and I took back in July ?  I must confess that I still have pictures from that trip.  You see when John and I were driving down from Albany California to Ojai, we took the Maricopa Highway and California was fresh and alive from summer rains.  The mountains were covered in green foliage and flowers bloomed everywhere, it was a veritable Eden.   Oh how I longed to tell my hubby to stop the car so I could whip out my camera and take pictures.  John on the other hand was in no mood to stop the car on that curving, 2 lane mountain road, so I sat in silence.

Later, while visiting my sister Camille, she asked if there was anything we wanted to do or any place we wanted to go.  I mentioned the flowers that I saw along the Maricopa highway and how I would have loved to have taken some photos.  Now I should mention that  Camille loves to drive so she happily volunteered to drive us up through the local mountains in order for me to take some photos. 
It must have been some 20 miles or so before we got into the proper elevation where the flora was thick and colorful.  Camille stopped the car at a lovely little waterfall and I took out my little, old point and click camera . . . the one held together with a stripe of blue painter's tape.  As I pressed the on button the camera lens extended with a soft whine and then whined again as it retracted. . . and then nothing.  The batteries were dead , and I didn't bring spare batteries and it was at least 30 miles back to the town of Ojai.  Fortunately Camille had her phone with her so she kindly snapped all of the photos of the Maricopa highway flowers.

photos above and below - little waterfall

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Catching Up on Catching Up

It had been standing there for many years and each time I passed its way I would tell myself; "I have got to get a picture of that before it falls down or is taken down with a chainsaw."

It is the skeletal remains of an old, Florida Slash Pine which rests on a vacant lot overgrown with weeds and brush.  Lately I've noticed the wooden skeleton listing slightly to one side.  How long would it be before someone declares it a hazard and has it taken down?

Fortunately I did, finally, get around to taking a few photos of the old  dead pine.  Unfortunately I have been too preoccupied to do any editing of this photo or, for that matter, any photo that I've downloaded in the past month or so.

The past few weeks I've been busy trying to find venues in which to sell my handcrafted jewelry.  I had several leads and went to check them out only to find that there are soooo many jewelry makers doing the same that every place is booked solid and to the point of bursting at the seams with jewelry.  Many venues have instigated limits as to the ratio of jewelers that they'll accept in a show or fair in order to prevent "over representation" of the craft.  Though disheartened I don't intend to dwell on it. 

I've also been away for the past couple of weeks.  My hubby and I decided we wanted to visit some friends that we've not seen in ages and . . . well if we see these friends why not go a little farther and visit so-and-so, and things just sort of snowballed from there. 
In the end we went through some 12 states and put over 4,600 miles on the little rental car.   We rented a Toyota Camry, it averaged about 36 miles per gallon, even at highway speeds of close to 80 mph (other than the stretch in Texas where the posted speed was 80 mph - there we were driving at about 88 and getting passed like we were sitting on a log) .

Hopefully I can get caught up on things, such as sending out thank you cards and emails and taking care of things that had to slide for the last few weeks,.  But I especially want to get around to visiting some of your wonderful blogs and try to keep my own blog fresher and more up to date. Wish me luck on that last bit.  :)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Truths About the Everyday Housewife

Hey !  You!  You with the kids running around the house teasing one another,  shrieking and screaming:  
"Mommy make Ashley  give me back my Superhero Golly-Bog Transformer."
 "Mommy Billie just hit me."
 "But Mommy, Ashley hit me first!"
Yeah I'm talking to you, the one sweeping up Fruit Loops from under the kitchen table.
This is the life of most moms and especially the stay-at-home mom.  This is reality.   A stay-at-home-mom isn't lounging on the sofa watching daytime soaps and nibbling on chocolate bonbons.  She's lugging a 30 pound basket filled with dirty laundry to the washing machine.  Instead of wearing opera length satin gloves she 's wearing elbow length rubber gloves and is scouring out toilets, scrubbing  bathtubs and mopping floors.  

 Most of all she's tired. 

Tired of the cyclic routine that seems endless.   Fix breakfast , wash breakfast dishes, clean-up kitchen.  Fix lunch, wash lunch dishes, clean-up kitchen.  Fix dinner, wash dishes, clean-up kitchen.   Tomorrow do the same thing and the day after that and the day after that and the day after that . . .
In the mornings it's make up the beds . . . in the evening she crashes  into bed, exhausted ... the next morning it's make up the beds again.  Once a week she strips the beads , then makes up the beds with fresh clean sheets and launders  the used sheets,  folds them neatly and puts them in the linen closet so they'll be ready for the next time.  This is repeated weekly;  week after week, month after month, year after year.  The repetitiveness is numbingly monotonous.   There are moments when she'd like to scream or even run away, but she doesn't.  She bears the drudgery out of love and devotion for her family.
 She's not one of those gorgeous, 20 or 30 something  models on TV, posing seductively in a form-fitting, low cut, little black dress telling us that if we used this or that facial cream we too will look years younger, be more radiant and just as beautiful as she is.   While Ms. Beautiful Model  is touting a sixty or seventy dollar bottle of potion that's just one part of a multi-hundred dollar beauty routine,  Stay-at-Home-Mom is worrying about how they're  going to afford their monthly  mortgage payments and also pay for little Timmy or Beth's much needed braces.  It's tough living on  one income.  Yes she could go out and get a paying job but she knows most of her income would go to pay for child care.
As Ms. Beautiful Model 's perfectly manicured hands caress a sensuous  bottle of Firming Lotion, Stay-at-Home-Mom nonchalantly sits on her own hands to hide her chipped nails and ragged cuticles and tries to think of ways to live from one paycheck to the next. 
Do we really need meat this week?  How about a big pot of beans and some cornbread?  Later in the week  I could cook up some rice and add the leftover beans to them, maybe splurge on a head of lettuce and make a salad?  Or I could fix a huge tuna and elbow macaroni casserole.
Always struggling to stretch that paycheck far enough to cover expenses and then, just when she thinks she's  got it made . . . Why the blazes does the car need a set of new tires now ?  What do you mean the washing machine is broken ?   Is it just me or does the refrigerator feel a bit warm inside?   

Sure, I've been there, I know what I'm talking about.   I used to laugh with Phyllis Diller (notice I said with and not at) when she told a joke about how she had 5 children and had her milkman deliver  nine quarts of milk.  Six quarts to drink and three to spill. 
I don't think there was a single day that one of my kids did not tip a glass of milk over and I had to run to get something to sop up the flood of milk with before it ran off the table and onto the floor.  Seems I was never quite fast enough so there was always at least one meal that  required my having  to mop the floor around our kitchen table. 
And living on one income, paycheck to paycheck?   I've been there too and know just where you're at. You get that monthly credit card statement and think; "Just a couple of more payments and we'll have all of last Christmas's gifts paid off."   And then it strikes you, "Oh Dear Lord !  In just a few short months it will be Christmas AGAIN !"
 It's like being on a never-ending merry-go-round.  Round and round we go, like a dog cashing its tail.  Is it any wonder that we have those annoying  little lines at the corner of our eyes or those furrowed creases across our forehead?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

From Ugly Duckling . . .

Picture (snagged from online source) of a large, faceted tigerskin quartz bead.

Dull, bland and totally lacking character.  These were the words going through my head as I inspected my last remaining tigerskin quartz pendant.   It had been on a short strand with seven other trapezoidal (like a triangle with the top cut off, creating a stone with 4 corners) shaped stones but unlike the other stones that boasted eye-catching patterns and vivid swirls of fiery reds and rich gold and browns, this one lone stone was dull, bland and totally lacking any interesting detail.   It was merely a translucent, quartz trapezoid with a small cloud of white in its middle, along with a smudge  or two of  brownish tan.
Unfortunately I did not take a photo of my tigerskin pendant bead but found this photo online showing some tigerskin beads that have very little pattern and color - my bead would have been similar to the last bead on the right side of this picture.  Clear and uninteresting.
Back when I purchased this pendant bead I was new to the game of  bead shows and wholesale buying and admit that in those  tenderfoot days I made some bad purchases.  Certainly some of the less honorable vendors could see my inexperience and took advantage of my naiveté  but most were honest and helpful. Even back then I was reluctant about this purchase but it was a local bead and gem show, small in comparison to most national shows, and the show was on its last day of a 4 day  event.  Naively I roamed the exhibition hall looking for treasures and vaguely aware that most had been snatched during the show's first couple of  days.  What I was  now looking at were the dregs, the leftovers. 
When I spotted the  Tigerskin pendants they were new to me and I was fascinated by them and asked the vendor what they were.  He replied that they were Tigerskin Quartz.  There where were only 3 strands remaining, 2 of the strands had pendants that were badly chipped and the 3rd strand had the ugly duckling bead.   Hoping for a discount I pointed out the chipped pendant beads.  The vendor shrugged and indicated that the 3rd strand didn't have any chipped beads.  Obviously he wasn't interested in cutting me a deal so I was left with 2 choices; walk away and not purchase any of the strands or opt for the strand with the ugly duckling.  You've probably guessed which option I chose.
The ugly duckling sat in my supplies for several years, all of its siblings had been used in one or another of my necklace creations.  Reluctantly I took it out and studied it debating if I should just toss it.  Since there was little to lose, I began to experiment with it and attempted polishing it with my Dremel tool and polishing compound to buff out any scratches, trying to give it a high, gloss shine. After hours upon hours of polishing, ugly duckling looked as pathetic as ever.  On the verge of throwing it into my wastebasket I suddenly remembered I had a small assortment of patinas and glazes.  So began another experiment. 

Photos above and below shows my enhanced tigerskin quartz pendant with beaded bezel in progress.

Gold alcohol ink was gently dabbed on the back side of Ugly Duckling.  After the alcohol ink  dried,  I was impressed with the transformation but decided to carry it further.  The next coat was a light dabble of copper alcohol ink and then a coat of African bronze patina.  The layers of glazes and patinas created wonderful depth to this pendant, which is, unfortunately,  hard to perceive in my photos.
To protect this finish I applied a couple of coats of epoxy resin.  Once the resin was thoroughly cured, the task of creating a beaded bezel began.  Using dark bronze, metallic glass beads and Swarovski crystal pearls to create and embellish the bezel.  I then fashioned a rope necklace with lush Czech glass seed beads using a twisted herringbone stitch.  The beaded pendant bail is rich with a fringe of more Swarovski pearls, bronze glass beads, seed beads and Czech firepolished beads.
I do believe the Ugly Duckling has become a graceful swan or maybe it's a butterfly.  What do you think?
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