Sunday, November 27, 2005

Christmas Trees & Old Friends

This is a bad picture of a road through one of the fields where our trees grow. I should have taken pictures yesterday of the activity here at our Christmas tree farm, Frog Hollow Hollow Evergreens. Since Friday, people have begun cutting and taking their trees home for the holidays. Lots of people still tagging for later, too and we have lots of nice trees for them to select from. After a few *lean* years following some nasty drought conditions, it's really nice to be able to send folks up without holding our breath and crossing our fingers that they will be able to find something they like.

Our *Welcoming Committee*, Rudy (our Sheltie), is in heaven since he is constantly surrounded by large groups of adoring children, many who are just his size! He is totally exhausted by the end of the day - crashing somewhere out of the way, usually under a table or behind the sofa. At other times, he's begging us to play, but not on the days when he has so much *work* to do!

My sister, Tina, and I have been busy making goodies for in a little shop we have carved out of my studio space. We are selling the things both of us normally make & do like my soaps and beads and her books and magazines, but we also have made a number of things especially for Christmas: Gift baskets, Holiday Potpourri, Whipped Shea Butter, Lip Balms, Sugar & Salt Scrubs - too many to mention...

It is interesting seeing so many people come through and fun seeing old friends from years past. We still see folks from the Herb Basket - the shop we started many years ago in Landisville. Yesterday morning, one of our favorite customers, June, stopped in for a tree and some goodies from the shop. It was just so nice to see her again! June was there for many of our classes at the herb shop and I remember her bringing a camera and a shower cap to our very first *Kitchen Cosmetics* class... someday I'd like to see the pictures she took that night!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Fluorescent Spider

Look what I saw crawling across the driveway as I was walking out to the shop! Fluorescent Spiders! Jeesh! First, the birds and now this...

I assume that the coloring means it's poisonous or is just a mutation that protects it from its predators. Works for me!

Sorry the picture is so fuzzy, but I was a bit excited. Anyone know what this is???

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Llamas (Alpacas)!

I pass these guys everytime I take an order of soap and stuff over to Cloverleaf Herb Farm in Mt Joy. Today was one of those days and I decided I had to take a picture!

They are Alpacas and there's a store nearby that sells alpaca socks, hats, gloves, etc., etc. I haven't yet visited the store, but I've seen the gorgeous creatures out grazing all the time. They even have a horse thrown into the pack although I don't think he/she is on the picture.

It's kind of a jarring sight when you're accustomed to seeing cows and horses and suddenly, here is a pasture full of something that looks possibly like a long necked sheep, or maybe one of those sleek Afghan Hounds.

Now, when I see this pasture full of Alpacas, even though I know they aren't Llamas, I think of this Llama Song and try (poorly, I'll admit) to sing the song! The song still cracks me up and if you have a decent connection, it may entertain you, too!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Back to the Torch

Back to the torch! I was afraid that I was away too long and would forget what I knew about making beads.

Someone asked me if I could make beads to match her round soaps and the tablet press is perfect for the job. The beads came out pretty well and I'm thinking they would make a gorgeous necklace or charm bracelet.

The soap bead inspiration got me started and I kept going, inspired by colors and some of the angel beads I've seen online recently.

I thought about doing a Christmas angel/fairy and came up with this little one (on the right) dressed in green with gold tipped wings and halo.

She isn't one of my best beads, but then I started to think about some of the stuffed, primitive angels we used to make years ago, and progressed to some really basic angels, but I like them too. I was so impatient to get pictures of these and didn't really do a good job so I hope you can see that the turquoise angel has a bit of holly on her skirt.

The pink angel is more *just a country angel*, no specific season for her! She has a little green vine twined around her and a stylized daisy.

At least they are somewhat original. I was hoping to come up with something a little different from what everyone else is doing.

Finally, I was about to turn off the torch, but had been so happy with the look of the turquoise angel, that I picked up one more mandrel and started a fairy. I love this little gal, there is a depth to her that isn't easily visible in the photo - very etherial. No name yet. I'm thinking some kind of water nymph fairy... is there such a thing?

That thrill of watching the glass swirling around the mandrel never leaves. I'm still not technically perfect by a long shot, but I feel I get better all the time. I must constantly remind myself that I don't have to rush to get the piece finished. I can keep it warm and continue working... I can add and subtract. Glass is much more forgiving now than it was a couple of years ago.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Trolls, Buffoons and Queens

This going to be one of those thoughtful posts... no pictures, but something has been occupying my time and I have to write about it because it just clicked for me.

In two of the online *worlds* which I frequent, there has been a bit of trolling going on. One is innocuous and probably short lived. The other has caused major rifts in the community and friendships are being irretrievably broken.

Someone posted a long description of this type of behavior and the sub-groups along with do's and don'ts in handling trolls. I should probably copy it here or post a link, but maybe another day.

The only comparison I have is that when we were flying balloons.... well, my husband was flying - I was chasing... a similar thing happened in *real life*.

We had a small pocket of balloonists in our area. One pioneer of the sport had brought it back home with him and had trained a few pilots. We were a close, fun group. Flying in Amish Country, we had made certain self-governing rules. Among them was an agreement to do no *champagne flights* in deference to the religious beliefs of the people in whose fields we often landed. We were also careful to avoid landing near animals, on planted fields and to be extremely polite to the landowners.

It's hard to keep a low profile when you are flying a 6 story balloon around the county, but since it was a group of peole who had a common interest and shared their knowledge and love of the sport freely, we were happy to basically do our thing and only needed to seek publicity when there was a special public event coming up. As I said before, it was a close knit group and we had a lot of fun and friends within it.

As time went on, the technology of the sport improved and it became an easier (but still rather expensive) sport to enter. Still it demanded knowledge and self-control. Flying a balloon (and landing safely) is more complicated than it may seem.

Someone entered that relatively exciting arena. This person learned from the real pioneers of the sport (or craft) and then decided to become the expert, spokesman, *source of all knowledge and adventure* in that field. He was loud, crass and decided, "The hell with the rules... I make my own rules!". "I can afford this.. don't tell me what to do." He brought in his own *Varsity* team and basically acted as if he had invented the sport and brought it to our area... never mind that one of the first hot air balloon pilots in our area and the US had been flying for many years before he came along.

This guy was often featured in our newspaper with tales of the wild exploits he was *planning*. He sought out high-profile sponsors and his name became synonymous with ballooning in our area. The champagne flights began and tales of his misadventures were circulated among the old-timers who shook their heads and watched as the red areas on the map (places where land-owners had forbidden landing) grew.

Most of his grandiose schemes came to naught. The reports of the events were never published, only the plans. Many of the older balloonists just stopped flying because the connection to this buffoon was made one time too often. Supporters and critics argued about his influence and many good friendships were broken over this fellow.

He had destroyed a wonderful sport in our area through his grandstanding... I haven't heard about him in years and all the great events we used to have here have died out.

I'm sure there are other reasons why this has happened, but I see his entry into the sport as the catalyst....

Now, I'm seeing this in other areas. One person should never be permitted to destroy a group. I've seen terrible fighting on forums about herbs & soaps, because one person decided to become the be all and end all of the topic.

Now I'm seeing it in the glass forums as well.. I didn't understand why I was not impressed with some of the *stars* in the glass sommunity. I even took a couple of classes from some of them - which left me even more unimpressed with the personalities of those upon all praise is showered.

I love the free exchange of information that is available on the web these days, but now I know why, when someone sets themselves up as *the* expert, I want to run in the other direction.

Sorry - this probably doesn't even make sense to most people reading it, but just think about it when you are humbled by someone's knowledge in your field.

We are all here to learn - from each other. EVERYONE has something to contribute. Especially in the arts.. and anyone who divides a group is a serious threat to the community as a whole.... IGNORE THEM! Do not feed their ego.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Moonlight Fairy....

Two posts in two days... I knew I could get back to blogging again!

This is the Moonlight Fairy I wrote about in a previous post. I wish you could see the detail, but her colors demand a blue background,and Photoshop is a wonderful thing. It gave her a fabulous background and just the right mood. The large bead above her with the moon on it is actually a sliding bead that acts as the adjuster/fastener for the necklace. Both sides of the necklace slide through it so the length can be adjusted easily.

We went down to Amish country again today to make some deliveries and I wish I could have taken pictures of the wash hanging out in the breeze! Monday is still the traditional wash day and all the wash is hung outside to dry. The Amish have large families and all the black pants and coats are lined up in graduating sizes! The women's brightly colored dresses are an interesting contrast flapping alongside. The washlines are often strung between the barn and the house on pulleys so *Mom* can just stand on the porch clipping wash on the line and push it out. Same thing in reverse when it's time to bring it in.

I'm not sure what it is the men do on washdays, but apparently it isn't field work. All the work horses were lounging about in the fields enjoying the rest and pleasant fall breezes! They seemed to be deep in conversation... What do you suppose they talk about out there?

"Well, what do you think the old man is up to today? We got the dang field cleared for him last week and all the corn is in."

"Aw, he'll find something for us to do. You know, no rest for the weary."

"Yeah, just once, I'd like to see him do some work around here!"

Ya think it's like that?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Wandering and wondering

Listening to the thunder of a storm outside right now, it's hard to believe we had such a beautiful day today.

It was sunny and just a bit on the warm side of crisp. The fairyland setting of the woods was filled with more colors of yellow than I ever knew existed! Tina urged me out for a woodland wander. It isn't full of new things springing up every day as it is in the spring, but it is lovely in a fall sort of way. The leaves fell in cascades and the wind was just strong enough to make an amazing swooshing sound through the trees.

At one time, I didn't like fall because it meant winter was on the way. Now, I have learned to enjoy the season, whatever it is and love each one for what it has to offer.

It was a nice break in the day. We're trying to make up for lost time, getting the shop and products ready to go. A couple of families stopped in to tag their Christmas trees on this balmy fall day. Last year, I believe it was so warm on this weekend that we had taggers out in shorts!

I made shower sprays and packed oils. Tina made soap stones, I printed labels and made a display for her books. Tina wrapped soaps for an order which Bob and I will deliver tomorrow.

In between, we were busy watching the escapades of a fellow on a forum we frequent. It never ceases to amaze me how some people on the internet believe they can bull their way into a group and attempt to take over. Oddly, it seems if it is a man on a forum mostly populated by women, he is given respect and consideration in the face of arrogance, condescension and downright insult. A woman would never be afforded this courtesy. I guess women just expect more of each other and yet often we trust each other less. I wonder why that is...