Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Well, I have some form of spring fever, it's clear. I find that all I want to do is work in the garden and make these floral pendants. Here's a few I've started in the past couple of days-- they're still at the beginning of the varnishing process, they'll be ready to wear in a couple of weeks. I even started a full 7-panel necklace with the dandelion pattern (the kelly green with yellow dandelions and white poofs). I should have it done in time for the Nashville Spring Blossom Festival May 10-11-- I certainly hope so, because it'll be perfect for that event!

The actual garden is coming along, too...I found a couple of takers for the garlic chives, so those are being thinned out. Have had occasion to trim the lemon balm a little (turned it along with some of last year's dried apple mint into a syrup for my iced tea). Bought some basil, cilantro, parsley, nasturtium, and lettuce, which I will finish installing today.

Oh, and for fans of handmade soap-- I just tried out a new bar of cinnamon soap from Simple Soapworks, and I feel the need to rave. I smell so good right now. Tip for you local folks: I got it at Bloomingfoods. So go get some for yourself. Now.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I sent out my second quarterly newsletter yesterday. The newsletter is usually quite brief, highlighting new work, giving my upcoming art show schedule, listing retailers that carry my work, and giving a special deal or coupon. If you'd like to be added to my mailing list, just drop me a note and I'll sign you up.

I thought it would be nice to briefly introduce my retailers here once a week over the next couple of months. I'd like to start with Aquablue.

Aquablue, run by LeAnn Ebersviller, is an aqua massage spa where, if you're in the neighborhood of Fargo, North Dakota, you can drop by for a relaxing massage and a little retail therapy! LeAnn has made a point of selecting products made in the U.S. and Canada-- not just manufactured here by some ginormous company, but made by hand by artists and artisans. Handmade candles, bath and body products, home and gift items, and of course, jewelry, all selected to help you slow down, relax, and put a smile on your face (works best when taken in conjunction with that massage, I hear). I was delighted to discover that she has featured a pair of my earrings on her product page!

Makes me wish Indiana weren't quite so far from Fargo....

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I can't believe it's April 26th, and I really, really want to turn the heat on in the house. I so need to move back south.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

I did try a garlic chives soup, and it was not bad-- chives, some fresh oregano, a potato, some actual garlic, chicken stock. Fry it up, then blend it. Stir in a little cream. A little more fibery than I would have predicted, but not bad. Unfortunately, it only used a vanishingly small portion of my available garlic chives, so I'm still looking for other things to do with them....

Lots of good cat pics this week-- here they are relaxing in what they think of as their sun cubicle, and which I think of as my light box.

Yes, Ballyhoo has been reading some James Joyce. He says that reading great writers will help him with his novel, which he still will not show me. We can only hope he's right about this, although it doesn't look like he's getting much reading done at this moment.

Not sure what they're looking at here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In honor of Earth Day, I got out in my garden (at this point barely distinguishable from a weed patch) to clear away dandelions, grass, violets, and those other things with the purple flowers that the bees like (there are plenty more on my lawn for the bees, don't worry).

Things that survived another winter or have sprouted already:
lemon balm
black peppermint
berries and cream mint
garlic chives, garlic chives, garlic chives
garlic chives
apple mint (in a container)
chocolate mint (in a container)
lemon thyme
french thyme
orange spice thyme
mother of thyme

Mint and oregano I know what to do with (even as abundant as mine-- I have baby oregano plants beginning to colonize the lawn) but the overabundance of garlic chives has me stumped. I can't stand pulling out and composting perfectly healthy, edible plants. On the other hand, they're taking over. Sprinkling them on baked potatoes just won't do it. Garlic chives, anyone? Got any good recipes? (I'm thinking they'd make a good soup....)

Two biggest mistakes I made when planting this garden, by the way: putting in Pennyroyal, and putting in Mother of Thyme. The pennyroyal I eventually managed to banish, but the mother of thyme is still creeping onward.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

I was woken up early this morning by a shaking of the bed. No, a shaking of the house. No, a shaking of...everything. This Florida girl has never felt an earthquake before, and it was verrrry disturbing. Like when the space shuttle takes off, but stronger. I think the cats found it offputting, too.

Ballyhoo appears to have gotten over it, anyway. I know, sorry about the dark picture. I didn't like the way the flash looked, and he wasn't considerate enough to sit in a sunny spot for me.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ah, spring. The problem is, all I want to do now is go walking around. This is a problem because, although exercise is welcome and needed, my feet reject all my shoes this time of year, and I end up rotating through wave after wave of blisters until the delightful weather is long gone. Every once in a great while I find a pair of shoes that loves me back, and I wear them for about 8 years straight until they're literally falling apart, having long since lost the glow of youth. I usually wait until I am forced to conclude that the property of not giving me blisters counts for nothing if I'm getting burns on the bottom of my feet from the asphalt due to the large hole that has developed in the bottom of the shoes. Then I throw them out, go buy a new pair, discover that they give me blisters, and regret my having forsaken the tattered rags that were my old shoes. Oh, how I pay for so betraying my old friends.

All of which is just to say that I now have two separate sets of blisters on my heels, blisters on my pinky toes, and proto-blisters on the pads of my feet, and I deeply, deeply miss the sandals I threw out last year. *sob*

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hmm, I just published a new post that I drafted on Thursday, but when I published it, it showed up down there, instead of up here. Go scroll to after Friday Cat Blogging and you'll find it!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

Now, about Vindaloo (I know, I'm doing this backwards-- you'd think I'd start with the older cat first, but you'd be wrong.). A few years ago I volunteered for a short while to teach English to some Somali immigrants in Indianapolis. Despite years of second language acquisition theory study and enough Swahili to communicate with the husband, I proved lousy at this, and on my second try, after putting up with me for a while they politely suggested that it was time for the wife to begin making dinner (at 2pm) and could I please go. So I went, feeling like the biggest loser ever, to hang around in their lawn until my husband, who had gone off to work in a coffee shop during my planned hour of tutoring, came back to pick me up. There was a small herd of kids next door who were luckily very friendly and not too citical of my loitering on the curb, and so I discussed life with them for a while. They invited me over to their place to wait on my ride. They had kittens. Lots and lots of kittens, and they were looking to get rid of them, so when their mother got home, and my philosopher showed up, we had more general discussion of the excess kitten issue, and it was agreed that we would pick one out, and come back in a few weeks when it was old enough to remove.

We went back as planned, and acquired a kitten. I think it was not actually the kitten we had initially chosen, but hey, it was still a kitten. Good enough. She meowed her fool head off all the way home, so we decided to call her Vindaloo for her spiciness. Also because Vinda Lou sounded like it could be a good Southern name.

She lived in the guest bathroom for a few days, acclimating to her new digs. When we finally let her out to meet Ballyhoo, this is how it went:

He was very polite and cautious, and kept his distance so as not to alarm the kitten. Vindaloo, on the other hand, puffed up like a fluffy balloon, scuttled sideways, and hissed. Ballyhoo took this with his usual good humour. Before long, they were (and continue to be) best pals.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I had lunch this week with my friend and former Swahili teacher, who had her bag stuffed full of kangas to lend to a student who was doing a presentation about the kanga later in the day.

The kanga is a popular piece of clothing/all around useful item in Tanzania-- lots of people call it the 'traditional' clothing, but I think that would be stretching it a bit-- as I understand it, it wasn't really introduced until early in the 20th century-- but it is certainly much-loved, both deeply and widely associated with Tanzanian culture. Anyway, it's a colorful cloth featuring bright patterns and a saying of some sort. The saying can be used to give a message to the recipient (if it's a wedding gift, it may have a saying of good wishes for the new household,for example), or the wearer may use the message to communicate with others in the house or neighborhood about something that's been on her mind. Usually the saying is in Swahili (although on Pres. Bush's recent trip to Tanzania, I saw that the commemorative kanga worn by the women greeting him was in English). Swahili these days generally uses Roman script.

Back to my friend's recent kanga acquisition. She had one new kanga that used Arabic script! This is very unusual-- Arabic script was used for writing Swahili for centuries, mainly by poets, but when the British missionaries began their literacy work in East Africa, they went with the Roman script. For various historical reasons, this was the method that stuck. I had heard tell that there were still some poets in the coastal region that preferred Arabic, but hadn't come across it anywhere myself. Now this kanga! Popular culture with Arabicized Swahili! How cool is that?!

I did my best to read it, but frankly, the Arabic writing system really isn't very well suited for Swahili. Granted, my grasp of the Arabic writing system is limited, to put it mildly-- I took a year of the language about 15 years ago and haven't done much with it since-- but I don't think it's all me. There are a few more vowels in Swahili than Arabic, for one thing, and several consonants don't match up well with the letters available. Though I suppose that the same criticisms could be made of the Roman alphabet. But anyway. This one translated roughly as "I will not leave my husband because of rumors in the neighborhood." I don't understand the choice of Arabic script for this, but it's probably meaningful. There's always more than one level of meaning in Swahili.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Yes, I'm still making the recycled paper bangles, thank you for asking. Here's my latest, featuring a Robert Frost poem fragment, the last two lines of "The Black Cottage".
"There are bees in this wall." He struck the clapboards,
Fierce heads looked out; small bodies pivoted.
We rose to go. Sunset blazed on the windows.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The latest dye job

I've been playing in dye again! I can't get over these splotches (for lack of a more alluring word).
My last batch, the red drops, ended up turning into a necklace, a bracelet, several pendants, and a mini-calligraphy piece. I've already started on a new necklace with this blue and brown batch.
In other news, I refreshed the supplies at the Wandering Turtle this week (including leaving the aforementioned red inkdrop necklace with them), so if you're in the Bloomington area, do stop by and take a look! They've got a wonderful exhibit of spring florals up now, including some truly stunning 3-d work by Martina Celerin, who just when you think has produced the most amazing work possible, up and tops herself every time.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

Boy, have I been slack! My New Month's Resolution is to not be slack, at least in respect to blogging.

Not a good view from the window for Vindaloo. This week Vindaloo has been involved in 1) asking for food, 2) knocking over the turtle food canister, 3) laundry basket surfing, 4) asking for food, 5) stare-downs through the glass door to the deck with the new calico cat next door, 6) virtual bird-hunting, 7) being groomed by Ballyhoo.

Ballyhoo has been working on his novel, enjoying the gradually warming outdoors, asking for food, asking to go out, sitting on people, and grooming Vindaloo.