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?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

LOST - One Slightly Used Mojo

View from a hill on U.C. Berkeley campus - the city of Berkeley is unfortunately covered in a haze of fog - which is rather common for this area.

It doesn't take a astrophysicist to deduce that I've been offline for quite some time now.  I seem to have lost my mojo and just can't figure out where it's gone . . . but if you should happen to see it would you be so kind as to direct it back home to me ?

I've sort of left my trip out west unfinished and up in the air.  Though admittedly many of the photos that remain are less than stellar.

Photos above and below - more views of Berkeley from hilltop vantage point.  From up here one can see "forever" . . . well one can see as far as the bay. 

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