Category Archives: family

Suddenly, It Was Quiet

My husband and I have enjoyed two weeks here with our daughter’s family, including a two year old, and five days with my son and his fiancé plus Daisy Mae, their dog. For those of you with a large family, this probably doesn’t seem like many people, but for us, it was a very pleasant house full. We are fortunate that we all get along so well and enjoy many of the same things. I looked in the den one evening and saw five adults on either computers or IPads and the two year old on an IPad also. I was the lone non-tech person since I was working with wire on a bracelet.

At other times, it wasn’t so quiet with either Daisy Mae, the Blue Tick Beagle, baying at something outdoors or my grandson working on his high pitched scream. Thankfully, it was a happy scream, albeit shrill.

Then, by ten o’clock Saturday morning, it was suddenly quiet again. Today, things are back to normal with the only loud sounds coming from my hammer on the bench block. I’ve completed a good deal of whacking and am hurrying as I prepare for a show tomorrow evening. Here some new earrings that just laterns hatched. These are made from small squares of copper sheet that I annealed and thin rolled, starting at one corner. I used a hole punch on the bottom and now they remind me of faralitoes. These little lanterns are the focus of one of my favorite children’s books, The Farolitoes of Christmas, by Anaya. You might visualize these as little tin lights wherein a candle can shine through the holes.

I made a similar pair a couple of weeks ago and they left home before I took a picture. That pair didn’t have the holes, but were wrapped in half round sterling wire.


I was hoping to show you the texture on this second pair of earrings, but it’s difficult to see in the photo below. My friend gave me a new little hammer which I happily used to tap dents all over these discs which I then domed.

discToday, I finished the cascade of beads and mixed metals shown below. I’ve made this necklace before and have always said I wouldn’t make another one. Alas . . . I gave in. It’s quite time consuming with all hand made chain and jump rings. Then, as you can see, each bead is attached with an individual head pin and wrapped loop. I thought I was finished with this twice, but then kept going back and adding more beads. Today, I’ve promised myself that I WILL NOT add any more beads! It’s going in the traveling display case right now!cascade I hope this blog entry finds you relaxed after a quiet (or noisy) Thanksgiving weekend and that when the real world calls you back Monday morning, you’ll be ready for it.

I Brake (break) for Learning

This has been a highly productive week if you are NOT talking about jewelry design. I’ve been blessed to have my 2 1/2 year old grandson and family here this week and have gotten to take care of him while his parents searched for a house. I don’t know about him, but I’ve certainly had fun and learned a good deal.

One of our favorite tasks has been gathering acorns outside and then bringing them in to practice our hammering skills. Those acorns really “smush” when you put them on the bench block and whack them with the big hammer. We’ve learned that you shouldn’t swing the hammer back too far because you can whack yourself on the head if you aren’t careful. After a few tears, we are now very careful. This is the only jewelry design tip you’ll find in this blog entry.

 fishing      I’m excited to watch my grandson’s imagination grow as evidenced by his ability to pretend. He has no trouble “goin’ fishing” with the pole we rigged together.fishin



I could only find one magnet which didn’t function very well for catching fish, but we did manage to catch several healthy paper ones - - over and over and over again. Do you like our red pond?



Another day, we both got a good splashing while we worked on the concept of sink and float. He got pretty good at hypothesizing whether an object would sink or float, but that piece of orange sponge that floated and then sunk was rather perplexing. Don’t you think it’s good to challenge the child’s thinking?

sink I learned that when you play sink and float with a two year old it’s important to have multiple towels available. We got the wettest when we decided to blow through straws in the water so the floating objects could boat around.

We have had many other adventures, but since we’re off for another one right now, you’ll just have to wonder about them. I can truly say that this little learning break is worth every minute.

Fling Those Beads!

I’ve seldom been known to fling my beads, but every once in a while you just have to.

About bedtime last evening I sat peacefully in the den with my bead tray on my lap. It was full of various beads and wires as I worked on a new ring design. I always enjoy this peaceful time of the day when things are at a basic standstill here at the ranch. My spouse was putting his dog, Bruno, back into the outside pen after his evening visit. (every dog needs its special time!) I heard the pen gate open and then the yelling commenced. “Karen, I need you now. I need you Right now – hurry!” I could tell by the tone of voice that there was an emergency.

I flung the bead tray to the floor and raced, barefooted out the back door. “Get the dogs!” I didn’t even stop to ask “why”, but immediately called the dogs. Luckily, all three came racing into the house where I trapped them and then went back outside. There stood my husband beside a large rattle snake that was coiled, ready to strike and in full rattle. The noise was frightening.

I ran to the garage to get the hoe, but the light was burned out and I couldn’t see anything. I grabbed the first tool I could feel off the wall of garden weapons. When I got to my husband, he was sure the short-handled hoe I had procured was not going to work. Back I went – three times – three different tools that wouldn’t work and the entire time the rattler was making plenty of noise.

Finally, I managed to secure the long-handled hoe and give it to my husband in the dog pen. Then I got my first clear thought since flinging my beads. Chopping that big snake even the long-handled hoe was not a good idea.

I ran back inside and got the gun, praying that it was full of bullets – praying my spouse wouldn’t miss. One shot and it was over – two more shots and we were sure. Snake dead – people relieved – dogs confused.

snake2As snakes go, this was a big rattler. We measured it at four feet in length and about three inches in diameter.

snake1Need I tell you that we didn’t sleep much that night? I’m still “rattled” by the thought of that snake in with my dogs and know that we were all very fortunate. I didn’t know a snake would rattle for such a long time before striking, but I’m certainly glad this one did. It was definitely trying to get us to go away.

So, I definitely recommend flinging beads when needed.  Beads can be replaced, but husbands and pets cannot. Now, if I could just find my glasses that were also on that beading tray pre-fling, I’d be back in business. So, go ahead. Fling those beads and keep your eyes and ears open at Dreamcatcher Ranch.

Thanks Papaw!

On Memorial Day we are reminded of the thousands of military men and women who perished for our freedom. I was touched this morning by the Today Show’s story about young widows of military men who have banded together to help one another and make the most of their now solitary lives.

I am among the lucky ones. I haven’t lost a family member through military service even though my father, grandfather and uncles all served on foreign shores. All of them came home whole. We were blessed. So today I honor my father for his service in the army. He fought in World War II and the Korean Affair, but he never spoke about either. There were no war stories and there was no mention of what he saw or felt. I was left to wonder.

I know he was among those enlisted men who was commissioned during the war and I’ve heard my mother talk of how difficult it was for him to adapt to the change from “one of the guys” to leading the guys. I also know that he learned to cook while in the army; yet her never discussed the difficulties or the true significance of his time. I never even knew how he managed to come home one night from a foreign town wearing the wooden shoes that eventually set on our fireplace mantel instead of his army boots! I’ll bet that would have made a fine story.

At the end of active duty, my dad remained in the reserves and each summer he spent his vacation with other reservists during two weeks of hot summer camp. I don’t even know what he did there other than sweat!

blissarmyIn 2000 when my dad knew he had little time left on this earth, he asked my husband to fetch an old shoe box from his closet. The box held a military belt with a leather holster inscribed with U S. The holster contained a well kept Colt revolver that I had never seen before. My dad told us that he carried this in war time and that his father carried it in World War I. Now it hangs in our locked gun case as an ominous reminder of what was and what remains today. We are a country that fights to protect humanity and continues to sacrifice for the common good.

I now believe that my dad kept his stories to himself for many reasons. In particular, he did not seek sympathy or admiration for what he had done. He just did what most other young men did during that day and time so long ago. I also believe that to talk is to remember and he didn’t want to relive those desperate war days. He simply went on with life and left them behind as best he could. He must have dealt quietly with his own hell of memories and perhaps it’s best that I never knew what he experienced.

Thanks Papaw. I miss you.

Design Stages

I’ve taken a bit of a break from writing while my family has been visiting. Although I would enjoy showing you pictures of everyone, my grandson was really the only willing subject. He and I thought we might offer you suggestions for steps in the design process.

Incubation: This stage requires relaxation and tension release. It is, of course, important to be free from restraints so that ideas can flow.

GtableThis stage may require some action that says “it’s OK to dream and think out of the box. Sometimes it helps to get into a new thinking position while you ponder possibilities. This highly divergent activity could mean you look at supplies or tools from a totally new angle as demonstrated in the photo above.

Marketing Research: This is a much more convergent and structured stage in the design process. It can require serious computer research while you determine if your idea has already been done and/or whether it is feasible.

GcomputerYou will want to be comfortably dressed while conducting this stage.

Practice: You may need to refine a technique or skills before starting your new design. Hammering, for example is a good skill to practice. When practicing, it is often wise to practice the same skill with various types of materials. In this case, my grandson worked with both large head nails and smaller rivets.

       Gnails        Grivets



Try to keep from being distracted by other interesting things while practicing for your design. This can be a BIG problem!

IMG_2616 Production: Once you are satisfied that your skills are perfected, it’s time to start creating your design. Guard against obstacles or personal issues that may get in the way of your work.

GrefrigYou will want to be well rested and free from hunger.

Unfortunately, by the time my grandson reached the completion of this stage, it was time for him to go home.  Yet, we know the production stage of design development holds promise and look forward to this two-year old joining in the creative process again soon.