Thursday, December 24, 2009


About a week ago, while trying to put the car in the garage after arriving home from work, I slightly miscalculated, and got a smidge too close to the right side of the garage, and this was the result.

Tore off the whole frame on the right, and bent the weather stripping.

I drive a pretty wide SUV, and I even have to fold in the side mirrors to have any hope of getting the car in the garage in the first place, but have never actually miscalculated.

I was fine until the right rear wheel entered - it seems that the fender over the right rear wheel well sticks out about 2 inches more than the rest of the car (does that make sense? - I'm saying the car is about 4 inches wider over the rear wheels - 2 inches on each side) - and when the rear wheel well fender hit the garage wall, I quickly stopped, and backed up, and re-centered the car, and pulled on in.

It was dark at the time, and I couldn't really inspect the car for damage, but since the garage door wouldn't close, I had to go over and fiddle with the structural damage to the garage so that I could get the damn door to close.

I had to break off a small piece of wood, and manipulate the weather stripping, and then the door went up and down without any problem - fortunately, the garage door track was not involved in the little "incident".

And the next day, I inspected the car, and other than a paint scrape over the wheel well, there isn't even a scratch on the car.

So I called a repair company, and explained what had happened, and told the guy that Monday was my only day off, and asked for an appointment the following Monday (Dec 21) - and the guy refused to give me an appointment. He said, "Just call me first thing Monday morning, and I'll come on by and take care of it".

I had no prior dealings with this "company", but this IS the South after all, and things tend to be pretty laid back, so I agreed.

And I called him first thing Monday morning, and got his voice mail, and left a message.

And 2 hours later, I gave up, and called HouseDoctors, simply based on their ad in the Yellow Pages. The owner's wife said that the owner was on a job at the time, but could come by the house around 3:30 to "take a look".

And he arrived at exactly 3:30, and gave me a professional, written estimate, but naturally couldn't do the job right then, because he didn't have the materials, and it would be dark soon anyway. I told him that Mondays are my only available day, but that I would be out of town for the holidays the following Monday - and then I sort of jokingly asked if he'd consider doing the job on Christmas Eve, since I would be off work that day.

And he said, "No problem - I have a guy who can do it that day."

So we set 11 AM as the time, and the guy showed up at 10:50 AM this morning, and by 12:30 PM the job was done and I was back in my jammies, chillin' with some cappuccino and watching TV.

So I am really, really thrilled with HouseDoctors - and thanks, Scott! Great Job!

Bailey and I are going to just generally laze around the house for a couple of days, and then on Saturday we are driving up to the mountains to stay with Kathy and her pups (oh yeah, and her husband, too - Hi, John!) - and we are really hoping to find some snow when we get there.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Oh yeah - some of you have asked: my little injection was somewhat successful last week - it relieved all of my arm pain, and reduced my neck pain by maybe 40%. The pain management doctor called me yesterday for an update, and wanted me to come in this Monday for a second shot, but since I'll be out of town, we have to put it off until the following Monday. I'm still having a good bit of neck pain - and he says we'll see how the next injection does, but we may be looking at some surgery in the new year...

Monday, December 14, 2009

I just need little a cheering up today

About 14 months ago I had an ACF - an Anterior Cervical Fusion. Left me with a nice 4 inch long scar on the front of my neck, and a plate in my neck.

I had fallen about 3 months before that - I was trying to relocate some beads from my bedroom, which was getting far too crowded and cluttered, to my actual, designated, fully furnished 900 square foot beading studio - which is just down a long hall from the bedroom, in the bonus room over my garage, and required me to step down 2 whole stairs, carpeted stairs, to get to the room. I just preferred to do all my beading in the bedroom, curled up in my comfy bed, with my TV, and all my remotes, and room for Bailey to sit on the bed and pout while I ignored him.

But I just had too much crap in the bedroom, so I decided to move some beads into the bead studio. And on my first trip, my socked-foot hit the top of the carpeted stair wrong, and my feet flew out from under me, and my ass hit that top step at about 900 miles an hour, and about 9000 pounds per square inch.

And since I was carrying about 8 gorgeous lampwork beads in my left hand, my only thought at the time was "Save the Beads!!!!" - so I threw down my right arm to catch myself, and felt my entire right arm jam up into my neck.

And I was sore for a few days.

And then the neck pain, and the numbness and tingling in my left arm set in.

I waited about 4-5 months, and finally saw my doctor, and had the MRI, which showed the massive disc herniation at C5/6. He told me I could have surgery, or opt for some epidural steroid injections, but I should realize (which I already did, since I have a medical background) that if the epidural steroid injections worked, they were just a short term fix, and meant that surgery was really the only way to fix the issue.

So I had a couple of the injections, they worked, and everyone conferred and told me I had to have the surgery.

Surgery is really no big deal to me (other than paying for it on a struggling beader's "salary"), and the surgeon reassured me with statistics such as "95% of my patients wake up from the surgery symptom- and pain-free, and remain that way."

So I had the surgery in October 2008.

Most folks miss 4 to 8 weeks of work following this procedure - I missed 3 days (4, if you include the day of the surgery). Because I had just bought the bead store, and had (and still have) no employees - so if I wasn't there, the store wasn't open, and that really has a negative effect on getting the bills paid...

And of course, I was one of the other 5% - the tingling and numbness in my arm resolved, but the neck pain, while it kind of changed, and was maybe a little more tolerable, never went away.

When I went for my 6 week post-op visit, I was still having significant pain (and was supposed to be in that 95% having zero pain) - and the surgeon told me that if I was still having pain in 6 weeks, I would need to start Physical Therapy.

And so I became what is known in medical parlance as "lost to follow-op" - meaning I just quit going back. I had suffered from chronic neck pain for at least 17 years by this point, and had been through at least 3 full courses of physical therapy for it, with absolutely NO improvement, and I just didn't feel like ponying up the cash, on my meager beading income, for what I felt like would be a lost cause.
And so my neck pain remained constant, and unchanged - Not as bad as it had been pre-op, but still a pain in the neck, quite literally.

Then about 12 weeks ago I developed what appeared to be a simple case of tendonitis in my right elbow. Tendonitis is usually a repetitive motion injury, and that didn't apply, but all the symptoms fit, so I returned to Orthopedist #1, and he agreed with my diagnosis, and gave me a cortisone injection into my elbow, and instead of making it better, it got worse. And worse.

So I went back to him 8 weeks later, and confessed about the lingering neck pain, and how it was actually quite a lot worse now, to the point where I get frequent headaches, and often can't even turn my head left, right, up, or down, and he ordered an MRI. (of my neck - not my elbow)

He called me today, and told me I have disc herniation at C6/7, with significant impingement on the nerve root, and need to see the neck surgeon again. (Ortho #1 does all ortho surgeries except the neck and back).

I asked him if we could try the epidural steroid injections again instead, and he said sure - and evidently the anesthesiologist who does them was standing there next to him, because they said if I could come to the office in an hour, they would go ahead a give me one.

So I show up, and the anesthesiologist (the pain management specialist) does a full exam, strongly feels that my elbow pain is still your basic garden variety tendonitis and completely unrelated to my herniated disc, but agrees that I need neck surgery - but he'll go ahead and do the epidural steroid injection, both on a therapeutic basis (meaning I'll hopefully get some relief) and on a diagnostic basis (meaning that if my neck pain and/or elbow pain resolve, then he knows they are coming from the disc herniation).

I get the shot, and within 30 minutes the elbow pain is gone.

But my neck pain is now 100% worse. But this is to be expected, from all the manipulating he did in there -

And, on an unrelated note, my best friend died last week from complication of a stroke she suffered 8 months ago.

So I'm sitting here on some pain medication, and having a little pity party - no balloons, but I am eating chocolate cookies (and diet coke!) for dinner, and posting 3 pictures that make me feel better.

Thanks for listening. Enjoy my pictures!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Note to SYTYCD

The judges of So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) are always talking about whether the contestants can take notes (direction) from their choreographers and from the judges.

So I have a little note to give the producers:

No More Bollywood.


The only way I want to ever see Bollywood on my TV again is if Maks Chmerkovskiy is dancing it, alone, and NAKED. Well, he can wear those little finger cymbal things, if necessary.

So, hurray for my TIVO and the fast forward - I can roll right past all that Bollywood nonsense, and hurray for my TIVO and its slow-mo and pause buttons, 'cause those will definitely come in handy when Maks does TNB (Totaly Naked Bollywood).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Loving the Cold Connections!

I have become addicted to Cold Connections - it is the process of creating metal jewelry using basically any methods except soldering. You rivet, grommet, weave, etch with acid, hammer, saw - lots of fun!
This piece is my latest, and in my opinion, my best - it took days of planning and work, and is 3 dimensional. I used copper, sterling silver, stainless steel, and brass, plus a few seed beads, and I just love its asymmetry.
I ended up opting for a simple chain to hang it, because I didn't want to take anything away from the pendant.
This is one of a pair of Cold Connections earrings that I made recently, and heavily embellished with Swarovski crystals, Swarovski pearls, freshwater pearls, and seed beads - embellishing is one of my favorite things to do in ALL of my pieces, but cold connections really allows me to go wild with it.

The earrings were designed to match this pendant - where I actually set a cabochon into the copper sheet without any soldering or weaving - really cool! And, of course, lots of embellishing (or "crapping it up") as one of my friends calls it...

This set is actually available in my Etsy shop - but I just can't part with my 3-D masterpiece!

Cold connections will probably never be my favorite medium - my heart really belongs to Chainmaille, but cold connections is a close second.
If only it were portable, like chainmaille projects....
And on a non-related note - I am currently reading "Open" by Andre Agassi, and I just have to say that this is one of the best books I have read in a long time - I hate to put it down!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Can anyone explain this ad to me?

It pops up over on the right whenever I log into my Yahoo e-mail account, but I've never seen this particular picture attached to the ad:

I know it's not Obama; but is it somebody's Mom?

I know it's scary.

Does it make you want to click on it?

Me either.

Friday, November 20, 2009

For the LAST time...

THESE are Nappy Tabs:

You know - those little adhesive tabs that keep the disposable nappy from falling off the derriere.

THESE are Taboleon - aka Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo.

Stop calling them "Nappy Tabs".

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I have been playing around with cold connections for about 7 months now - Cold Connections is the process of creating designs from various metal components without soldering. Heat is still involved, as the metal has to be annealed with the torch frequently because it hardens quickly as you work it.

I have so little time to work with my own designs anymore that I hardly ever finish a project. I have probably 200 or more "WIPs" - Works in Progress - where I have started something, but been interrupted, and never gotten back to finish it up. This can be really irritating!

So most of my cold connections ideas have not fully made it into finished pieces - I think I have one pair of earrings up in my Etsy shop, and one necklace available at my bead shop, but otherwise just a big pile of unfinished stuff.

I created this copper flower at the end of September, during a weekend Cold Connections workshop at my store. It took most of the first day to complete (including tumbling), and features a freshwater pearl at its center.

I had originally planned to simply hang it from a copper chain, but could never even find the time to do that - and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do something spectacular to show off my beautiful flower, so I spent most of 2 days this week designing this multistrand necklace, which features some more cold connection work (some textured copper links), and some wirework and just plain old beading.

I decided to go all-out asymmetrical with it, and I like the way it turned out. A lot.

I used leopardskin jasper, aqua terra jasper, muscovite, copper, and 3 different colors and shapes of freshwater pearl - and the pictures just don't do it justice. The colors are magnificent.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Pause for Nostalgia

This necklace is the very first piece of jewelry I ever made, back in April or May of 2007:

It was the second item I added to my Etsy shop, way back in November, 2007.

A lovely customer just came into my bead shop, and fell in love with it, and bought it - and I'm delighted it has a good home after all this time, but a little sad, it a funny way - it was my first!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Something new

One of my William Holland teachers showed me how to bead crochet (rope crochet) last summer when I was up there taking a totally different class. This particular teacher is a good friend (she is nice enough to put up (and put up with) Bailey and me whenever I go up there for school, and she teaches Beadweaving, Wire Wrapping, and Cold Connections. I was up there that week taking something else entirely, but she met with me one evening in the dining room and taught me how to bead crochet.

And after that night, I didn't pick it up again until about a week ago, and it is now my new current addiction.

This is the first bead crochet project that I actually did myself from start to finish, and I think it is pretty cool.'

When I get a little more adept at it, I may start teaching it in my bead shop.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Not in a Million Years

Tell me this isn't really happening - a TWO-hour special, on network television, in Prime Time, on "the OctoMom"?!?!!!


It's not bad enough that Entertainment Tonight, and all those other "Celebrity" shows can't shut up about this famewhore?

I would not watch this alleged "special" tonight even if thousand-dollar bills FLEW out of my TV screen for every second I sat there.

I think the press, and the networks, and anyone else who foists this crap on us SERIOUSLY overestimates our interest in her, and, as usual, underestimates our intelligence.

Monday, August 17, 2009

OMG I'm Bored

I am so incredibly bored today that I am wandering around the living room taking pictures of stuff.

The boredom started yesterday - I spent some time beading (bead-crocheting, actually) - but making a bead crochet rope is just (to me) incredibly repetitive and boring.

And there was nothing good on TV, to keep me rooted to my seat while beading. So I didn't get much done - and the same was true today - I worked for about 2 hours on the rope crochet, but then I had absolutely had it.

So I just grabbed the camera, and started walking around.

I have an absolutely incredible lapidary collection - I have been collecting specimens for over 40 years. I even had a rock tumbler in elementary school, and tumbled rocks I found around Minnesota (where I lived at the time) for weeks, and weeks, and weeks.

This picture shows an agatized coral head, from a riverbed in Tennessee. And in the foreground, a gigantic piece of raw malachite, purchased from a published collector who travels through Afghanistan collecting malachite. (Or at least, he used to). This particular specimen is about 8 inches in diameter, and over 12 inches long.

When I was 5, I was hospitalized for about 3 months, and desperately needed things to keep me busy. I had a Lite-Brite - remember those? But after a couple of weeks, I had finished every single design available, and so my Dad brought in some fabric, and beautiful threads, and needles, and a embroidery-frame he had made himself just for me - it was adjustable to many different sizes, and the tension could be finely adjusted - it was a piece of art itself!

And then he taught me all kinds of needlepoint, including crewel.

And I spent hours doing crewel - and continued until I was in my 30s.

I made these 2 wall hangings, which have moved with me over the years, but always find a place in my living room, wherever I set up house.

This lamp was handmade by Wishon-Harrell in their Muncie, Indiana, studio. I lived in Muncie for about 5 years, and knew both these gentlemen well, and have a lot of their artwork - many lamps, and a wall clock, and vases, and candle-holders, and entire set of dishes, including a casserole and drinking tumblers.

I have heard rumors that their studio is closed - of course, it was back in the early '80s that I lived there and frequented their studio.

OMG - I'm not only bored, I'm old.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I finally finished a personal project!

I have taken better pictures in my day, but at least I am happy with my new necklace.

It all started when a bead vendor came to the shop about a month ago, and I snagged this gorgeous fluorite specimen from a strand of fluorite that consisted otherwise of much smaller, though still gorgeous, fluorite beads - this big one just stood out too much, so I just had to take it, don't you see?

I spent a few hours looking around the shop for other odds and ends to pair with it.

I have always wanted to use one of these sterling silver mesh beads (I call them tumbleweeds) that I nabbed at a GL&W show in Franklin, NC 2 years ago. I have had these beads for 2 years, and never used them, and they are luscious! I actually took them all out of my personal stash and out them up for sale in the shop last week, and no one has purchased any yet, so now I have used the first one.

I found a few stray teal freshwater pearls that really make the fluorite "pop."

I found a huge white freshwater pearl that I loved, and some smaller white button freshwater pearls, and some Swarovski pearls in various blue and green hues.

I've had this gorgeous sterling silver connector with 3 rings on the bottom in the shop for ages - and again, I think I'm the first to use one. Once I started dangling things, the opening in the middle of the connector just seemed to cry out to be filled, and I found this great hammered sterling disc that fit in there perfectly.

So I set about making my dangles, and attaching them to chain, and it took 2 full days to get everything hanging at the right lengths and positions to satisfy my eye. Late yesterday (after the shop had already closed, actually) I attached the bail, and found a rolo chain with a great look and weight to carry off my new "pendant", and I am just right pleased with myself about now.

And while all this was going on, I decided to look up the metaphysical properties of fluorite - and that made me feel even better about this whole combo. I have never put a lot of stock in this kind of stuff, but I liked what I read, and I figure it can't hurt...

According to what I read, fluorite is considered one of nature's most powerful mental healers (and goodness knows, I could use some of that about now). Fluorite allegedly has the ability to influence the activities that occur on the mental plane of consciousness and to amplify, focus, expand, and create new pathways for the mind. Fluorite is also believed to connect a person’s being on the mental and spiritual plane. This allows it to increase abilities of concentration, discernment of truth and clear decision-making. Other properties include bringing order to mental chaos, increasing objectivity, enhancing creativity, curing mental disorders, easing meditation and freeing one from bad habits.

The many colors of fluorite are believed to have different mental healing specialties. Green can energize and still the heart and mind. Blue is for inner peace. Purple is for focus and helping to get one out of a mental rut. Yellow is for comprehension and group communication and dynamics. White is for creating pathways between the individual and universal spirit.

I take all this with a grain of salt, but like I said, it can't hurt!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Too Much??

This is my new jewelry line - what do you think?

I have always gravitated toward big, chunky, colorful jewelry, and so I just decided to go for it.


This shot shows my big bold chunky necklaces, and matching earrings, or armpit-rings --whatever - they have heavy hooks so they will easily hook to the armhole of your sleeveless top or tank.

Layer them, for a more dramatic statement!

OK, actually, these are the beaded suncatchers from the windows of my bead shop - I had to take them down because I am getting the windows tinted this week, and they were in the way. They'll go back up when the work is done, even though if the guy does the job correctly, there shouldn't be much sun to catch!

It is just unbelievably hot lately - and the sun coming through the glass along the front of the store is just beating me down. The A/C can't even begin to keep up with it!

So I realize there will be a tradeoff - it will be cooler in the shop, but also a little darker. Folks may have to take the beads outside to really match those difficult colors, but that's OK.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It's always something

Down at the bottom of this post, I showed a picture of a project I was hoping to fiddle with the next day.

But I had forgotten that I was teaching a class the next day - so that day was shot.

Then, I got bead shipments, and had to sort beads, price beads, etc - this is ongoing and endless, it seems.

And then I took stock of the inventory on Friday, and realized I needed to place orders for findings and such - so the whole week was basically gone. And I think I spent a whole 30 minutes last week on my little fun project. I really, truly hope I can play with it tomorrow.

I actually took a class on Saturday - and made this:

It is technically finished (according to the teacher's instructions) - but I am not happy with it. The wire-coiling frame looks too dainty for this giant piece of impression jasper, and it actually isn't even stable - it will flop around the stone, because nothing anchors it but the wire going through the center of the bead. So basically, it is a flimsy, spinning, bead frame - which was not the plan.

So I am going to smack it with a little Sweet Freedom Magic, hopefully tomorrow or Wednesday, and make it better!

If nothing else comes up, you understand....

Something tells me both of these projects are going to end up in that HUGE box of half-finished projects in the back room - the ones I was all excited about starting, and then I got interrupted, and then I got distracted by a new project, and now my poor babies are abandoned.

It's not just me, right - does this happen to anyone else?

Is there a 12-step program for this?

Oh - Bailey is running a little poll over on his blog - if you get a chance, take a look - he fancies himself a big investigative journalist now. In fact, he posted some pictures on Flickr that may get his daily treat privileges revoked!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Can you say Shout-out?

'Cause I sure can. YES I CAN!

On tonight's So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD), my buddy Nigel actually referred to Tasty Oreo - er- Tyce Diorio as "the only choreographer [he knows] who's named after a cookie.

And then Cat added, "and a delicious one, at that."

And I was wrong - Mia wasn't the 3rd judge tonight, but only because she was a featured choreographer, and that little conflict of interest isn't allowed on SYTYCD. But at least they filled the 3rd chair with the glorious Adam Shankman!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I forgot to title this post!

I know some of you actually come here to read about my jewelry adventures, and I humbly apologize to all of you.

Truth be told, I hardly ever get to make something purely for me, or for fun, anymore.

I became a bead shop owner almost exactly one year ago - my "anniversary" was 8/1 - and ever since buying the shop, my jewelry making days have all but disappeared.

It takes SO much effort and time to run the shop, especially since the shop is not sustainable enough for me to afford employees.

I spent countless hours ordering inventory, sorting inventory, doing repairs, cleaning (Yuck! - I barely do that at home!), and teaching classes, that very little time is left.

And of course, there has been the whole millipede situation at the house, which I have been dealing with for 2.5 months. Ugh.

My absolute favorite thing to do, whenever I DO have time, is chainmaille - it is basically my obsession. If only the rings would appear, fully formed and ready to use - 'cause I despise cutting jump rings.

This is my latest creation - I just love this weave, and I like it in these 2 pinks:

These 2 pictures show the bracelet from the front and the back - I am amazed by how different it looks on each side.

But it takes about a week to complete one of these bracelets - that's a week of steady chaining- not just grabbing a little free time here and there to work on it. It is really a tough weave!

I got a huge new selection of gemstones in the shop 2 weeks ago, and have just finally finished getting them sorted and priced and out on display. Somewhere in these gorgeous beads I found this beautiful nugget of fluorite, and snatched it up for myself -

I have an idea of what I want to do with it, and hope to start on it tomorrow, if nothing else gets in my way first.

Remember this? The stunning turquoise and pearl necklace was something I dreamed up as a custom design for a customer, and the pink and pearl dangle earrings were made for a good friend who is getting married in just a few weeks. The 2 designs really had nothing to do with each other, except I made them both the same week.

But now my friend, the bride-to-be, has decided she wants her wedding necklace to be made in the same way as that turquoise and pearl creation, except all in white pearls, and rose and crystal AB Swaroskis. So she has been in the shop this week, working on it, with a little help from me - She is about halfway done, and it looks great, and will be perfect with those earrings!
I'll try to get a picture of it when it is done, to show here.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Cat Came Back*, and so did the 'pedes.

Some of you may recall the Great Millipede Invasion of '09.

Within 3 days of the pest control treatment, I strolled out into the backyard, and looked down at the sidewalk that leads from my deck to my driveway, and noticed about 300 dead earthworms all shrively and curled up - kinda like you see after a huge soaking rain, when they all drown and end up on the sidewalk.

Except I knew this wasn't from rain - we hadn't had any. And then I recalled the pest control guy telling me that the treatments he was applying would treat about a 6 foot perimeter around the house - so I quickly did the math, and figured all these worms were just collateral damage.

Sorry, earthworms.

So then I decided to check a little closer around the house, and I saw thousands, and thousands, and thousands of little dessicated millipedes all around the foundation of the house.

This is the view directly outside my backdoor, on the deck. It is just so disgusting for me to think about all the millipedes that must have been slithering around in my crawl space; to quote the pest control guy, he saw "billions" of them crawling all over the A/C lineset.

At least there were no more millipedes, dead or alive, inside the house.

Victory, huh?


Is it just me, or do other people ONLY find out about A/C leaks when their homes are invaded by millipedes?

Because 28 days after the house was treated, I came down one morning and saw a dead millipede curled up by the baseboard in the front hall. And promptly convinced myself that I had just missed that one when I vacuumed up the other 10,000.

And the next day, there were 2 more dead ones downstairs.

So I called the pest control company for a re-treat.

And the next day, I started to see live ones.

And the pest control guy found 2 more leaks in the A/C's PVC pipes in the crawl space. And naturally, live millipedes crawling all over the PVC.

And since the A/C guys told me they had never, EVER seen a bug infestation as a manifestation of a leak, I am just wondering how it happens that this is the way I have found out about A/C leaks every single time I get them.

Why me?

*The Cat Came Back - obscure reference from a childhood song.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Little Validation from Nigel

Watched So You Think You Can Dance last night, naturally -

No Dan Karaty - AGAIN.

Unfortunately, they stuck us with that idiot Lil' C again - whose opinions, again, were hopelessly out of sync with those of the other (actually trained in judging dance) judges. And naturally, he made no sense ("the stage is a bowl, and you need to eat your cereal?" HUH?)

But the highlight of the evening for me, was even before any of the dancing started, and Nigel Lithgoe made the exact same statement that I made a month ago - the dancers this season are just "meh".

Well, maybe Nigel didn't exactly say "meh" - but he DID say that none of them stood out, because none of them have any personality.

Next week is the finale, and I predict they'll haul out Mia to fill the 3rd seat.

I miss Dan.

Monday, June 29, 2009

OK, about those millipedes...

Dan Karaty is a hard act to follow, so I might as well go in the complete opposite direction, all the way to disgusting, and tell the millipede story.

Some of you may have seen the pictures over on my Flickr. But here they come again.

You have been warned.

Along about May 30, 31, I strolled into my kitchen, with its white linoleum floor, and spotted something small, and dark brown, over near one of the baseboards.

Now, my vision isn't all that great in the mornings, and I'm not going to lie here - I am NOT Suzy Homemaker, and I frequently have small brown things on the floor of my kitchen - I mean, seriously, people - I work 80 - 100 hours a week (a have 2 jobs), I don't have a housekeeper, and I have a BIG dog who comes and goes through the kitchen to reach the great outdoors, so there is usually yard/dog detritus on the floor - bits of leaves, pinestraw, etc. And it's not all Bailey's fault, 'cause I freely admit I drop stuff, and don't always pick it up right away.

But even with my extremely impaired vision, I instantly knew this small brown thing was different.

For one thing, there hadn't been anything in that particular spot the night before, when Bailey and I headed upstairs for bed.

And for another, it was moving. Albeit, slowly, but still, it was moving.

So I crouched down, and identified it as a millipede, about 3/4 inch long, and strolled past it and let Bailey out.

And then I grabbed a paper towel, scooped it up, and put it in the trash.

And then I saw another one.


I have never, ever seen a millipede in this house before. Twenty years, and no millipedes.

One, I can excuse - but 2, in the same room?

But I went on upstairs, and readied myself for work, and left; promptly forgetting about the 'pedes.

And there were a few more when I got home.

And even more the next day. Always in the kitchen.

So the next day, I turned on the lights in the halls and dining room, where I have dark brown hardwood floors, and I see more of the 'pedes, cleverly camouflaged by the brown hardwood.

So now I'm concerned - here in the SC midlands we are used to the occasional Palmetto bug (or roach, as we call 'em) - because we are surrounded by pine trees, and those Southern roaches love pinestraw, but I knew these millipedes had to be coming from somewhere, and I wanted them gone.

They don't scare me (like the roaches do) - but I want to be able to walk around barefoot without crunching on them!

I was coincidentally leaving for a week away at William Holland on June 7, so I formulated a genius plan: I would set off a bunch of those bug fogger things, and come home in a week to a few dead millipedes, and be done with it. Problem solved.

So for the rest of the week I continued to pick up a few millipedes every morning and evening, and on Sunday I loaded my stuff, and Bailey, into the car, set off the bombs, and drove away, peace in my heart.

And as I drove into my driveway the following Sunday night, I remembered the bug bombs, and knew I might have to do a little housekeeping before I went to bed, but I certainly wasn't ready for this.

There were hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of millipede carcasses - especially in the carpeted areas downstairs.

And I had not EVER seen a millipede crawling on the carpet. So I figure that when they were alive, they must crawl along the base of the carpet, well beneath the fibers, and when they die, they curl up and rise to the top of the nap. Because this is what my living room carpet looked like. Can you get an idea of the scope of the problem, here? This is just about 8 square inches of carpet!

So I vacuumed and vacuumed, and finally felt like I had gotten most of them (although I confess that I have not yet pulled out the furniture and gone along the baseboards.)

And then I went upstairs, and found my first evidence of the upstairs 'pedes. 'Cause I had never seen them upstairs before the great bombing.

This is the (upstairs) guest bathroom floor - all those tiny brown specks are dead millipedes.

And there were several hundred curled up in the various bedrooms upstairs - but nowhere near the numbers I had seen downstairs.

But I vacuumed, and went to bed feeling like: Mission Accomplished.

And then Bailey and I got up the next morning, and went downstairs, and there were 3 more of the damn things crawling on the kitchen floor.

And more when I got home.

So I knew now what I had really known a week earlier - these things were coming from somewhere, and I officially had an infestation.

The next day I called several pest control companies, and discussed my situation, which I had already researched on the internet. Various websites had told me that millipedes are often driven indoors by heavy spring rains - but that really wasn't the weather situation here, and didn't explain why the bombs failed to take care of it. All the pest control companies I talked to told me "it just happens," but that they could take care of it with quarterly servicing. I didn't want quarterly servicing - I insisted that this was something new, and there was clearly a source, and I wanted it treated and fixed, and that would be that. So one company finally agreed to come do a one-time treatment (for twice the price), and we set up the date.

On the appointed day, the technician arrived, and I invited him in, and he explained everything he would be doing that day. And I started asking him questions - like where they were coming from. And he stuck with that story about "sometimes it just happens." And I asked him whether the millipedes were using the stairs to get upstairs, or going up through the walls (because inquiring minds wanted to know), and he said probably both. I envisioned waves of millipedes swarming up my staircases.


And then he asked to see some of the millipedes - and naturally I was able to show him a little pile of dead 'pedes I had shoveled into the corner of the kitchen for just this occasion. I told him I hadn't seen a live one for a couple of days.

And he started treating and inspecting.

And almost immediately he found some live ones, crawling along the baseboard in the downstairs bathroom.

After about 30 minutes, he finished inside, and headed for the crawlspace.

About an hour later, he rang the doorbell, and told me he needed to show me something in the crawlspace.

*Cringe*. I avoid the crawlspace at all costs - it has a dirt floor, and is only 3 feet high, and has spiderwebs!

So I went no further than the door of the crawlspace, bravely sticking my head in as far as my shoulders would allow. The technician went about 15 feet in, and pointed to the 2 hoses which go from my A/C units across the floor of the crawlspace for about 35 feet, to where they enter the wall of the house. One of these hoses was sitting in a virtual river of water, which was actually pooled condensate, while the other one, which was only 4 inches away, was perfectly dry.

Although I couldn't see it from my spider-safe vantage in the doorway, the technician told me that the wet hose was covered in billions and billions of crawling millipedes - apparently attracted by the accumulated moisture. He said that while he had treated this area, and these millipedes would soon be dead, others would soon take their place unless the moisture was ultimately dealt with.

So I called the A/C folks, and they immediately came to the house (wow!) and diagnosed the problem as a failure of the hose's insulation, and replaced said insulation. And they also kept telling me over and over again that neither of them had ever, in all their years in this business, seen a situation where the insulation on the "line set" failed, condensation accumulated, and millipedes moved in.

When the pest control technician was finished, he came back into the house to explain all the chemicals he had used, and have me sign the paperwork, and while we stood in the hallway discussing it, we looked down and saw live millipedes crawling up the side of the couch, presumably to get away from the chemicals he had put down. So now I'm envisioning swarms of millipedes crawling up all my furniture.

But it has now been a week, and no sign of live millipedes.

When I came home from work on Friday I saw this dead roach on the carpet in the breakfast nook - but no more live bugs, and no further dead millipedes.

And we have a saying in the South: the only good roach is a dead roach.

So I have a good bit of housework to do - pulling out all the furniture, and vacuuming behind it, and in all the cushions - but I really believe the problem is solved. Yay!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Why hast thou forsaken us, Dan Karaty?

I am not ashamed to admit that I am fully addicted to So You Think You Can Dance. Have been, since Season 1. It's not even a guilty pleasure: I feel absolutely no guilt - I just love this show. I Tivo every episode, and then burn them onto DVDs - OK? I love it.

But now that it is Season 5, I just need to make a few observations.

Let's talk about the dancers this season for a moment - no matter how many times you say it [Mary Murphy, I'm talking to you], this is not THE BEST SEASON EVER. There is simply no standout, crowd pleasing dancer this season - at least not yet. No Benji. No Dmitry. No Lacey. The dancers this season are just "meh".

So let's talk a bit about the "Jidges" (that's "judges", for those of you who haven't heard Cat Deeley and her cheeky British accent introduce them.)

Love, love, love Nigel. There. I said it. He is respectful, and always has meaningful critiques. And he always makes sense. And I love his sense of humor.

It used to be, back a few seasons ago, that Nigel was the one permanent judge on the panel, and the other 2 judges rotated weekly, from among the panel of SYTYCD choreographers.

And Mary Murphy was one of these rotating judges.

Now, I actually like Mary. She often has insightful criticisms and comments.

But there's a couple of problems with Mary:
  • she's a freakin', shreikin', BANSHEE
  • her regular voice makes my ears bleed
  • she has this annoying habit of speaking almost entirely in purely rhetorical questions/statements, and then ANSWERING THEM - as in "Did I think that performance was fabulous? YES I DID!!!!!"
It wasn't nearly so bad when she was a rotating judge, but they went and made her permanent a few years back, and I really wish Nigel would reconsider - it doesn't allow for the tremendous diversity in judging that the show had earlier, plus my ears really, really hurt. Seriously.

When Mary thinks a dance or dancer is really, really outstanding, she puts them on the "hot tamale train." And yes, it makes about as much sense as it sounds like it does. And of course, she does it in an ear-piercing shriek, just like everything else she does.

So I am hereby putting Mary on the STFU truck, YES I AM!

I love you Mary, but STFU. Seriously.

And now some brief observations about some of the other choreographers/judges:
  • Mia Michaels - outstanding choreographer, but she is nuts. Just wacko. To the point of being incomprehensible at times. And note to the other judges/choreographers - Mia is good, but she is NOT a god. Good grief - woman doesn't walk on water, people, so stop with the tongue baths! She's just a choreographer with some weird ideas that she does a fantastic job of translating to contemporary dance, and is lucky enough to have talented dancers to interpret for her.
  • Mandy Moore - another weirdo, but not on the Mia Michaels level
  • Debbie Allen - good grief, Nigel - this woman should never, EVER, be allowed to judge this show (unless her medications are successfully adjusted to the point where she can actually make sense.) "Icon" or not, she just spews nonsense. Craaaaaaaaazy!
  • Toni Basil - again, this one should NEVER be allowed to occupy that 3rd chair on the panel. Woman makes absolutely no sense. Her meds really need adjusting, too - (although, after listening to this week's shows, I suspect she only takes "street" drugs. 'Cause with our Toni, it's all about the "street" - get it?)
  • Brian Friedman - gets a little weirder every season.
  • Wade Robson - apparently a freakin' genius (according to all the other judges/choreographers.) Me? Not a fan.
  • Adam Shankman - love him! More Shankman!
  • Benji Shwimmer - a previous SYTYCD winner, and a terrific choreographer. Cute as a button, too. We need more Benji on this show. And don't hold it against him that Lacey Shwimmer (recently one of the new pros on Dancing with the Stars) is his sister - she was damn good on SYTYCD, but sucks on DWTS. But none of this is Benji's fault!
  • Shane Sparks - another one who evidently is a genius, but I just don't get it.
  • Sonya Tayeh - weird, Weird, WEIRDO. Girl just is out there. And I personally don't care how she wears her hair, although it is also weird; however, I do find it a little ironic that they criticized Kupono for having the exact same 'do, and he ended up shaving his head "to fit in".
  • Tasty Oreo (AKA Tyce Diorio) - not crazy, not weird - but he's Broadway, and I am just not a fan.
  • Tabatha and Napoleon - a married couple, who choreograph some of the hip-hop routines. Could almost make me like hip hop. Almost. Taboleon are down to earth, and actually make sense when they rotate in as judges. Let's have more Taboleon!
  • which brings me to Lil' C. With the misplaced apostrophe. This dude is, as Mia Michaels would say, one hot polysyllabic mess. Dude just sits on the judges panel and spews big ole 10 syllable words that he apparently strings together randomly, and everyone stares at him in awe. And he's a hip-hop choreographer, so I already hate his work. But then he has the audacity to pretend to be able to critique ballroom, and ends up slamming some dude for having "bent knees" during an Argentine Tango, only to be corrected by 2 actual experts, who tell him that is the proper way to dance the Argentine Tango. So STFU, Lil'C, 'cause that shit ain't buck.
  • Dan Karaty - best part of the show. Period. Hot-looking, great choreographer, and useful insight as a judge. Where the hell are you this season, Dan? We want more Dan Karaty!! We NEED more Dan Karaty - get on it Nigel, bring back Dan!

And I just need to say one more thing about this season -

Thank god they got rid of Oscar this week (and yes, I know her name isn't Oscar [it's Asuka], but that's how Cat says it, so that's who she will always be to me). Girl was just boring, and not nearly as hot as Nigel kept trying to make us believe. Hope she'll celebrate her elimination with a cheeseburger, 'cause seriously, girl needs to eat.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Purple + Pearls = Perfect

I've had this gorgeous dichroic glass, amethyst, and sterling silver pendant for awhile - the dichroic glass is a rich, deep purple color (dichroic glass NEVER photographs well - it's such a pain!) - and I just didn't know what to do with it, but an idea just came to me one evening, and when I got to the shop the next day, I grabbed the last strand of coin pearls (Sorry!) and strung it up with some tanzanite Swarovski pearls, and I just love this necklace!

It's simple, but bold.

Some classic earrings complete the set.

Which happens to be available on Etsy right now.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Coincidence? You be the judge...

Theory: Irish Step Dancing leads to hearing loss.

Evidence: The Irish Dancers of Augusta are conveniently located right next door to the Georgia Council for the Hearing Impaired.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ah'm not pissed, y'all - really, Ah'm not!

OK - I am still laughing out loud (lol) at what just happened in my shop:

This LOL (little old lady) just came in, with a necklace in her hand, and asked me to make a pair of earrings to match it.

And then she very calmly stated, "and Ah'm not pissed."

Well, OK then. She is a frequent customer here, and I am frantically trying to figure out what I could possibly have done the last time she was in, to piss her off.

So I looked at her LOF (little old face) and repeated, "and you're not pissed?"

And she said, "No, Ah'm not pissed."

So now I am totally confused, and she sees in on my face, and she says, tugging on her left ear lobe, "peah'ced, Ah'm not peah'ced - did you think I said ppp..... why, Honey, Ah don't even use that word!"

And then we both laughed, and laughed - at least she had a sense of humor about it!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What's blooming today

Spring is always pretty here, but this Spring I found a few surprises in my yard.

Like this gigantic magnolia tree blooming in the woods in my backyard - the tree is probably 30-40 feet tall, and I have never seen in bloom before.

And yes, I do remember planting it about 16-17 years ago.

And the blooms are HUGE - probably 15 or so inches across.

And they have a very nice, faint, sweet scent.

I do not do ANY work in my yard - no feeding, watering, pruning, spraying, no nothing. So I am surprised every year when this 17-year old neglected rose bush blooms at all - and this year it is just going crazy!

This close-up shows the beautiful red, white, and pink colors in this rose.

And evidently it rained at my house while I was at work today (where it didn't rain a drop!) - the only way I could tell, was when I started to edit these photos, and noticed the raindrops on the petals.

This is an ancient clematis vine I planted on this fence years and years and years ago - and it gets bigger and prettier every year.

This is the view visitors see from the street.

Close up of the clematis bloom - it is about 10-12 inches across.

This is a Scotch broom blooming in my front yard - a true tale of survivorship. I planted this bush, along with 2 gorgeous oranges ones (one on either side of it) about 15 years ago.

Then about 10 years ago, the truck driven by the guys digging my well just backed right over them, killing them deader than dirt. I left them, hoping something underground would survive, but they just turned browner and deader, so after about 6 months I dug up everything and left the area bare.

Suddenly, this year, the yellow one springs back, and it's huge!

Maybe there is still hope for the orange ones.

Wikipedia defines this plant as a horribly invasive weed. Oh well - one woman's weed is another woman's gorgeous shrub!

This is a late-blooming native azalea in my backyard. I don't know all that much about horticulture, and it has been over 25 years since I took botany (seriously - how can it be more than 25 years since I graduated college??) - but the only thing I know about native azaleas is that they have longer stamens than the other azaleas - so they have a fluffier look to them. At least, I think that's the stamen - but I could be wrong.

I planted a bunch of native azaleas when I moved into this house, and just neglect them like everything else - and like most of my plants, they seem to thrive.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Big week for custom designs!

A good friend is getting married in September (in Jamaica, and I get to go!) - and this idea for earrings for her wedding popped into my head Monday night, so I got to the store Tuesday and just started making them - I lost count of the number of wrapped loops somewhere around 50......

And so she came into the shop on Wednesday, and I surprised her with them, and she likes them, so yay!

One of my regular customers came in with the sterling silver pendant you see on this necklace, and asked me to design a necklace, bracelet, and earrings to go with it, and I just sort of got carried away.

It took 3 days to complete this necklace, and it is such a departure from what I usually make for her, that I actually called her in to approve it before I completed it, and fortunately she loved it, so I kept on going, and going, and finally finished this gorgeous necklace.

I designed this multi-strand bracelet to go with it,

And had just enough beads left over to create these matching earrings.

She came in to pick up the set today, and was thrilled, so that was great!

My friend who is getting married in September saw the turquoise and pearl necklace while I was working on it, and decided she wants a similar design for her wedding necklace, so we are going to start putting that together, with several different sizes of pearls, and lots of 4, 6, and 8 mm Swarovski bicones in crystal AB and in rose.

And today is Bailey's birthday, so happy birthday, sweet pea!