Category Archives: family

Coming Together

Families and friends often find themselves spread hither and yon both physically and emotionally. We may live in the same city as someone, care about that person, want to be with them and yet never find the time. Others live across states, oceans or continents, but make the time for one another when it counts. Those meaningful times build the memories we store in the albums of our lives. Last week was one of those times for our family. While the bride’s family came from across the waves in Germany, we packed in Texas and converged in joy for our son, the groom. San Francisco was a beautiful backdrop for the wedding, held on a 7th floor terrace overlooking the Bay Bridge. 540385_10151325843644112_74449676_n[1] We all dressed in our new duds and enjoyed the sights and sounds which were significant in this merger. The first photo below shows my husband, daughter, grandson, son in law and son. Below that you see my husband with my son and then with his grandson. My daughter sewed the little guy’s ensemble. Don’t the red shoes just make it? family wed guys g wed I was delighted to hear my daughter sing “Make of our hands, one hand . . . “ from West Side Story. She was unaccompanied and the notes were clear and lovely. Later, at the reception, the couple sang a duet followed by Brad’s rendition of Lyle Lovett’s “She’s No Lady, She’s Your (MY) Wife.” Someone captured both of these and put them on youtube.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZvOaGrC9_c&feature=youtu.be So, now there is a new Mrs. Meador. I gladly welcome daughter-in-law Erin to our midst and appreciate the energy she brings to this merger and the love she gives to my son. It’s difficult to describe how I felt the day of the wedding. Mixed with the joy, was the simple sadness of giving an only son to another woman. Yes, he’s been in her arms for a long time, but now it’s final. I’ll still be his mother, but she is and should be the main woman in his life. . . . and so, a new cycle begins for us as it has for others. Coming together is more than a trip across the miles that separate us; it’s the beginning of new feelings, new relationships and new happiness. For that, I say “thank you Erin Connolly for becoming Mrs. Brad Meador.”    

Ant Reprisal

A couple of posts ago, I talked about the book Two Bad Ants by VanAllsburg. This weekend my grandson and I had a chance to put some of that story into action.

First, he discovered a trail of ants leading to a sugar bowl in my studio.

ant discovery

Inspection of the sugar bowl revealed that there were indeed 2 bad ants in the container. In the book, two ants stayed behind instead of following the other ants back to give the queen a crystal treasure.

ants in sugar

I asked my little buddy if he would like to put the ants in a brown lake (coffee) an action that occurs in the book. He said “No – a red lake.” So, we made a red lake and many more than just those two ants were plunged into it. Actually, a good deal of the sugar also went into the lake.

ant lake

We discussed the rest of the book, but decided against putting our ants in the toaster or electrical socket as happens in the story. Eventually, we just laid them out on waxed paper to rest. By the next morning, we had true SUGAR ants, but we DID NOT eat them!

Ants

There are several things you can always count on here at Dreamcatcher Ranch when the month is May. These include Summer weather, Spring pollen and ANTS! It seems no matter how hard we fight them, those ants are more determined than we are and we lose the fight.

Last week, however, I got a new perspective on ants from my three-year-old grandson. He actually seems to like them! At the least, he finds them very interesting. During our visit, we checked out online information and videos and talked about the little critters. I couldn’t help but tell him the story of Two Bad Ants, written by Chris Van Allsburg. It’s one of my favorite books that tells about ants coming into a home. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the book with me, so I just told the story of how a couple of ants lingered behind in the sugar bowl while the other, more disciplined ants, carried their treasure out of the house. The entire story is told from the perspective of the ants and it was difficult to get the real effect without the pictures. Yet, my grandson was intrigued.

Tonight, I decided to dig out that book and take with me on my next grandmotherly expedition. At first I couldn’t find it. That meant I had to dig through the many picture books housed in my closet and that’s when I realized. Those books were my old friends. I touched worn copies of Winnie, the Witch, Roxaboxen, Rabbit and the Moon, The Last Dance and other familiar works. My reaquaintance with them didn’t even require page turning as the memories flooded back from the mere sight of them.

I could tell you that I read these to my own children, but that wouldn’t be right. I read these to teachers and university students in my classes. No workshop with me was complete without story time after lunch. While some thought this was silly, others looked forward to this part of our day. I usually told, rather that read, the story as I showed the pictures. At times I used a prop or two such as the shawl I wore in various ways for The Last Dance. I not only remember the stories, but I remember the people and the situations wherein I used them. Those books are like little capsules of my past that hold more than I ever realized until this evening.

Lest you think I neglected my own children, I should tell you that the pages of other books like Drummer Hoff and Where the Wild Things Are have well worn pages as well from our family sharing. I’ll bet my adult son can still recite most of the verses in Drummer Hoff.

I believe in this new period of publishing where many books are ready electronically, but wonder what will remain from these to help hold the memories of sharing books with others. My hope is that we will always share real copies of picture books and that these will be passed from one generation to the next as treasured gifts, not just relics. For now, I’m just anxious to share with another little person . . . hand-on.

Sharing

I greatly enjoyed a phone conversation last week wherein a friend from another life asked me about giftedness in five year olds. This brought back a basketful of pleasant memories from my work with young gifted children.

Today, I’m thinking about how freely the littles help one another with finding toys, building block structures and putting answers on tests. When I tested kindergarten children, we worked in small groups of no more than four or five children at a time. I was so careful to spread their tiny desks about the room where they could not see each other’s answers. Yet, they felt free to hop up and scurry to someone else’s spot for help with questions. They did this even though they clearly knew the answers. Some just moved to go and help a friend. Eventually, when I got that stopped and they realized their feet were glued to the spot they were in, the sharing still continued. I would read a question and the children would look around at one another. Then, many times one child would say “it’s the dog!” and all the others would mark the picture of the dog whether it was a good answer or not. It was really difficult to convince them that this type of sharing was not appropriate. “But,” they would counter, “Mrs. So and So tells us that we are supposed to share in class.” Hmm . . . One little guy was so vehement about announcing his answers that I had to place him in the hall where the others couldn’t hear him. I administered the test from the doorway of the classroom. Yes, little children are very slippery when it comes to testing, but they are often much better at sharing.

Lately, there has been considerable talk in the jewelry design business about just that – sharing. When can we share an idea, copy an idea, sell an idea, etc.? You can find a link to my article on the topic of copyrights and ethics at the side of the blog on the website (www.dreamcatcherranch.net/designs) or go directly to it at http://www.magpiegemstones.com/ethics.html . This short treatise basically encourages us to share techniques, but to develop our own ideas rather than copying those of others. “But everyone does it!” Part of the problem is that we’ve spent a life time, beginning in preschool, of being told that we should share. Yet, when we share an idea with someone, it is NOT OK for the person to profit from it. We have to consider intellectual property and honor the initiator.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a clear purple vs. ecru issue. I want to share and that’s why I write this blog. I hope you gain ideas from it that you will develop your own, but if you make any money from my intellectual property, how about sending me some?

As I ramble on, I would be amiss if I didn’t state that the Easter season is a good time to share. Christians share in the joy of a risen Christ and littles share the joy of hunting for Easter eggs. I hope that someone shares a good thought with you and you have a happy Easter. Below is a photo of the bunny salad my grandson and I shared with his family. You can see that I inadvertently shared some marshmallows with my little friend.

bunny salad

A Season to Remember

It often seems that Easter is the “lessor” of the two main Christian seasons. This is largely because merchants spend months reminding us that Christmas is coming and we’d better get out and make those great sales. There is less “hoopla” surrounding Easter; yet it’s just as important in Christian heritage.

I like Easter! It reminds me of standing in my little short white choir robe with the big bow at the neck waiting in the wings of the sanctuary for our turn to advance down the isle and sing. I can still smell the starch in that bow and feel the pinch on my toes in my new Easter shoes. My Mom usually led the children’s group and then waited for us to arrange our wiggly selves while she adjusted her music at the piano. We were advised to smile and sing or vice versa and I could never quite do both at once. I just remember be glad to get that itchy robe off!

We usually ate deviled eggs and ham for our Easter dinner. When I got a bit older, I made cake with icing, green colored coconut and jelly bean decorations. Much later, I became the one at the piano for my own little choir.

Now, I enjoy singing with my grandson and making crosses for the Easter season. I know these aren’t just for Easter, but it is a fitting time to create them and remember their meaning. I’ve been preparing crosses for a class I’m teaching in San Antonio. You’ve seen these photos before.

scroll cross

I wanted to try some other styles and have a couple of new designs.

crosses

The first is simply multiple pieces of wire wrapped to hold together. I found this to be tricky, but liked the result. The cross on the right is made from the same soldered base cross design as the filigree crosses, but features weaving and the use of bead embellishment without the filigree piece. It has a small copper disc on the back, like the filigree crosses, which covers the wrapping that secures the beads.

I’m hoping to spend more time “near the cross” in the weeks before Easter and will show you if anything else “hatches” on the design table.

Dinosaurs at Dreamcatcher

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The first signs were large and small footprints that appeared on the floor.

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Not knowing what to do, the adults called in the great dinosaur hunter. It didn’t take him long to discover the footprints.

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He quickly realized that this was not a job for an amateur and he was glad that he had brought his tools.

He selected the appropriate one and began to carefully examine the evidence.

 

 

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Yes! There were dinosaur footprints at Dreamcatcher Ranch. Since the dinosaur hunter knew that where there is one footprint there are probably others, he started an organized search of the premises.

 

 

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This thorough search provided even more evidence. Yes, something was definitely going on at Dreamcatcher. There were dinosaur footprints in several other locations.

 

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The great dinosaur hunter eventually made a startling discovery. There were not only footprints at the ranch, there were also dinosaur footprints buried on the premises. These bones looked amazingly familiar to the hunter.

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The hunter found several bones and then quickly ran to the laundry room to check his theory. There he located the dog treats and “aha!” he was right. Those dinosaur bones did look like dog treats! What a sleuth!

 

Finally, the great dinosaur hunter felt that he had completed his mission and made sense of the strange findings at Dreamcatcher Ranch. His job was done; so he did what all great dinosaur hunters know it important. He took rest and nourishment in preparation for the next big adventure. What a guy!

Catching Up

My husband and I just spent a grand eight days in Hawaii; thus I’m trying to catch up on a few things today. We were in Honolulu for three days.

sunset Then we flew to Kona for the remainder of our trip. Notice who got good and wet while we were whale watching on a boat.

whale don and K2

While I was gone, several readers emailed that they were not able to open the link for the ring tutorial in the previous entry. I didn’t realize that what shows up as I write and goes directly on the website URL is not necessarily what transfers to you all in your mailboxes. If you were not able to open the tutorial, here is another link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQ-Az7jIeFA&feature=player_embedded I hope you will try the ring. Wearing it on our trip, I received many compliments and have made several more rings for an upcoming show. I’m trying to figure out how to turn the ring design into a bracelet. Don’t hold your breath on that one!

I was anxious to view the jewelry in Hawaii, and found that the places I looked carried mainly the same style. They were small, lightweight and mostly silver. I didn’t see anything in copper. The exception was some lovely work by different artists featured at Elements, a gallery in Kapaau on Kona. I especially liked the lightweight and colorful anodized niobium earrings. Do any of you work with this metal?  The owner of this gallery was very friendly and gave me lots of information. This is unlike many of the places where I felt they gave me as little information as possible thinking I might steal some grand idea or secret.

I saw very few beaded strands in Hawaii and didn’t find any handmade chains. It made me wonder if my work was truly unique or just out of step. I’m still pondering that one.

Let’s hope I have new pieces to show you in just a few days after I catch up with things around here. For now, I’m just enjoying sleeping in my own bed as I listen to my own dogs barking. You just never know what you might miss on vacation.

Weave a Web

It’s no secret that I enjoy weaving with wire, but I’m realizing that I enjoy weaving relationships as well. I often say to someone  “I’ll bet ‘so and so’ could help you with that” or “ ‘so and so’ would really enjoy meeting you and discussing that.” It’s likely that the true name for this is networking, but weaving people together sounds much more creative.

Sometimes weaving the right people together needs to be added to the planning of an event. Have you ever sat by someone at a dinner party with whom you have absolutely nothing in common with? I guess that’s why some people use place cards! Perhaps you have been invited to a jewelry design event where everyone else was working solely with wire and you were the only metal artist. You either have to weave yourself into the group or watch from afar.

We can also consider how friendships are woven together. When these relationships ebb, flow or dissipate, it can be because the interest that bound them together has changed for at least one of the parties. A tightly woven relationship may continue if there is more than one common thread.

Weaving is also important when you are trying to decide what art/craft shows to participate in. The artist needs to be woven into the tapestry of a show where customers will appreciate the work. If customers visit a show because it is known for sparkling, blingy jewelry and your wares are metal and leather, things might not work out well for you. I like to find venues where I fit into the tapestry, but edge to the fringes with something slightly unique for the customers.

Aside from the above ramblings and philosophy, I wanted to share the new rings I’m been weaving this week. I learned how to create them from a youtube video and share the link below with you.

First I made several of the rings out of copper. I tried putting a bead in one, but am not especially pleased with it.

copper rings

Then I made one out of sterling silver wire and must admit it is my favorite.

silver ringThe weaving on these rings is the same technique that I have used on the newer bracelets and some of the necklaces. It works up very quickly. The only difficulty I had was is molding the 14 gauge main wires at the end.  I hope you will try one of these rings as I think you will like the look.

I also urge you to consider how you weave other things together in your family and relationships. Just as with the wires in the rings, individuals can support one another and create a strong whole.

Winging in the New Year

We are a family that thrives on playing music and singing; so it is certainly fitting that our grandson ushered in 2011 with his drum set and the ABC's song. His new hat only added to the festival of laughing. I’d have to say he definitely “winged” it with the drums.

g drumWe were also blessed with the beautiful sound of our new wind chimes given to us by wonderful friends. These alto chimes resonate (wing) gently through the air with wonderful clear tones. The photo verifies the fact that we finally received some rain here and the outside terrain is looking much better. This was much needed moisture since the last loads of hay that arrived here came all the way from Mississippi.

chimesI winged it by creating some new wire jewelry that looks a bit like some type of flying creature. It’s already time for me to start using Spring colors since this it what my wholesale customers will need next. These are just the beginning.

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wings1

I created this garnet piece at the end of last year, but it got me started on the “winged” pieces above.

garnet necklaceIn between drumming, singing and making winged jewelry, we did find a little time for baking. My grandson was only too happy to help me bake a chocolate pie. Amazingly, the rest of the family was only too happy to eat it!  

baker2Since the New Year has been properly winged in here at Dreamcatcher Ranch, the only thing left to do is say “Happy New Year” to you.

Laughter and Productivity

Most of us know that laughter is an excellent way to prepare for creative thinking. The research certainly backs this up and I can attest to it. When I worked with the Creativity Division of the National Association for Gifted Children, it seemed the other divisions tried to avoid our proximity during our meetings. We were probably the loudest and most fun group in the building. Most years, the division meetings were all held at the same time and in various parts of the same large room. The Creativity Division could clear out the entire room when we met. While many probably thought we were just goof offs, we were one of the most productive divisions in the association. Our spontaneous eruptions usually led to a new idea that proved beneficial.

Lately, I’ve seemed to be in need of some of the Division’s spontaneity. At this point in December, I’m feeling a bit spent and my productivity has waned. It’s obvious to me that creativity and productivity are inextricably linked for me. If I’m not producing, I’m not problem solving and therefore am not being creative.

Yesterday, I got a little help with this problem from a friend . . . my mother. When I arrived at the nursing home to visit her, she informed me that it was about time I got there. She had on one earring and was trying to get the other stud on. I couldn’t help but wonder how long she had been at it. We laughed when she was finally “fixed”.

Then I asked her what she wanted for Christmas. Without missing a beat she said, “my TWO FRONT TEETH” and flashed me a big toothless grin. Indeed, her two front teeth are missing and she does need a couple! Again, we laughed and laughed. I think it was her spontaneity as well as her answer that got me. We went shopping together and then grabbed some lunch, but I just kept thinking about her Christmas wish.

This little episode reminded me of last year when we asked her where she was when she and my father got married. Again, without missing a beat, she said, “Out of My MIND!” The woman, who will be 91 in January, is quite clever.

When I got home yesterday, I continued to chuckle and decided to try a bit or jewelry work. That’s when things began to flow nicely and the ideas became present again. Was it just time to design or did the laughter really help. I vote that it was the latter.

I mainly worked with cabochons yesterday, but was pleased with a couple of the new wrappings and the bezel I created.  The first stone is a boulder opal and all the rest are turquoise (yes, even the brown one). See what you think.

boulder                     brown turq

turqsI’m hoping to hang on to this productive thinking and continue to get some good work completed. I’m a believer that for me, at least, laughter leads to productivity and creative thinking.

I guess that the moral of this entry is . . . find something to laugh about and if you can’t find anything, go visit my mother!