Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Eve Visitors?

If you believe in this sort of thing, our Christmas Eve celebration was filled with many many folks other than just the ones we expected.

I have been told that the presence of *orbs* - the round things that are all over this picture - indicates spirits. I'm not really sure how I feel about that, but it is interesting that it seems every time our family gathers for a holiday, orbs are visible in the pictures although not usually in this number! I should also mention that every picture taken last night at this gathering contained many orbs.

We lost our Mother in March and her loss has served to bring us closer together. Some rifts have been healed and a couple of changes she wanted for us have come about. Although we miss her terribly, I believe that she has been working hard to make a lot of things happen that she couldn't manage while she was alive. It has been a very mixed blessing.

The love between all five of us, her children, is an almost palpable thing these days and I believe, if these are truly spirits, she said to all our many relatives who have gone before, "Come on, I want you to see my kids!" It's something she would have done. She was always so proud of us and I suspect she may be even more proud of us now.

We gathered at *her* house, where my brother, Tom, is living now. It's only a few years old, so there wouldn't be any old ghosts hanging around from past inhabitants. My sister and I were looking at these pictures and trying to figure out who on earth all these orbs could be (if that's what they are). Our grandparents were both from very large families, so along with Mom, her brother and our grandparents, there could be any number of great aunts and uncles...

I guess this would be frightening to some, but I find it very comforting. Either way, it was a great gathering, full of love. Can't wait to see the pictures we take today!

By the way, this same camera (same settings) was used earlier to take some other pictures of our dog at our house and no orbs were visible in those pictures.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Shopping & new stuff

Things have finally slowed down around the tree farm enough that I didn't feel guilty doing a little shopping yesterday. I'd post some pictures, but you never know who is checking in here!

The Sizzlers were doing a late bead show in York this weekend and I chose to opt out just because I can only be spread soooo thin, but if it's the same date next year, I may give it a shot. I stopped up to see everyone and wish them a Merry Christmas yesterday. One of the other reasons I wanted to get to the show was that the guy who sells the magnetic clasps I like was there and I wanted to stock up. Also, I've been doing a lot with chain and there is a good source for silver chain that was there too.

Another thing I was anxious to find was some gold vermeil findings and I redid a bracelet that needed some work. The beads have stripes of goldstone around the edges and it just cried out for gold findings. My clasp guy had some nice solid vermeil, magnetic clasps and I found some gold bead caps that just set off the crystals and the whole look - don't you think?

I feel like i've been gathering in so many nifty components and the skills to go with them that I can really sit down and put together just about anything that my imagination comes up with.

This goddess bead has been weighing on my mind. How to put it all together? Yesterday, I sat down and really thought about it... I like the way she came out. Very fetish-like. A sterling bail through her with bead caps finishing off both ends of the beads. And then the danglies... a leaf, a spiral and a crystal point.. Simpler than my original idea, but I like it... to the point.

As I was perusing one of my favorite forums, I found someone who makes pendants with pictures and optical lenses. She had some made with Mucha posters and the wheels began to turn. I contacted her and am in the process of purchasing a pendant made with my current favorite poster - Champenoix. I have an idea of some kind of collage kind of piece with the pendant combined with my beads and some other things that I want to make to go with it... I'm sure I will post it when it is finished.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Jewelry, you say?

Bet you thought I forgot I was supposed to be posting jewelry on here! So many things going on at this time of year, but I did manage to make a few new things.

The first one is called "Spring Thaw" and it has matching crystals on both sides of the hollow bead. The base color is transparent Uranium Yellow and the scrolls and flowers are done with the opaque version of the same color. The main strand of beads is a Czech pearl 10/0 in a beautiful creamy finish. The whole thing is adjustable (large lobster clasp and chain with a matching dangly on the end to help balance the necklace) so it can be worn by those with the lovely swanlike necks who want them short and also by those of us who would rather accentuate a different part of the body! There are a pair of matching earrings as well although the shape is more of a soft tablet rather than a hollow.

The second picture is a floral. I applied silver foil inside so it has a sparkly core and the turquoise and purple flowers just dance around the outside. You can see the beads strung close to the focal.. They match much better than it would appear in the picture. The colors are soft and "glowy". The main strand is again Czech seedbeads in a soft, clear purple strung on jewelry cable. This one is finished the same as the first with the clasp and chain so it is adjustable.

Oh, and I almost forgot. These are the finished beads I was asked to do for another soapmaker. It matches the shape of her soaps and will go with her hair (purple). It's hard to make beads to order - via email - but I think we got on the same wavelength and I can hardly wait to see what she does with them. She explained the design she has planned and it will be gorgeous!

I finally got all my equipment and supplies to work with some metal and play with some of the techniques I learned at Beadfest and since we're expecting snow and (yuck) freezing rain.. I may just get time to do that...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas Tree Stands

This is not an ad... we sell these at our tree farm, not on the internet.

In my humble opinion, this is one of the best tree stands on the market. It is called a Stand Straight and for the money($20 here) and the ease of use, it is the best.

It has a spike in the bottom of a nice big water bowl and is held solidly in place by a tripod base of rebar.

When we decided to sell these stands, we also had to purchase the "jig" which is used to drill the hole in the bottom of the tree. There is a *v* shaped piece at the very top of the machine where the top of the tree is nestled in and just above the drill is a sort of hollow where the base of the tree is set. The drill (which you really can't see in this picture, but it is on top of the green motor) comes up and drills the hole perfectly so that when the tree is placed on the spike in the stand, it is straight and secure.

We joke that this stand has actually saved marriages, but judging from some of the comments by people who come back year after year, apparently for those for whom setting up the tree each year is a stressful activity, it may have certainly made a difference in their tree experience!

It is so easy, that single women have been thrilled to have found the system as well. My sister used to like to get a fresh tree while her husband was at his National Guard weekend and she found with this stand, she could easily get the tree, take it inside and set it up by herself while he was gone.

My husband always finds a tree with a twisted trunk that would usually wreak havoc with a normal tree stand and puts it in one of the Stand Straight Stands to demonstrate just how well it works. You can see that he cuts off some of the bottom limbs to make it quite evident that this is not the *perfect tree*. It still stands straight and tall.

Our tree farm is choose and cut, so we're helping people make memories with their kids... Just trudging up the hill to the field of tree and (especially this year in the snow) finding a tree, cutting it and hauling it down are adventure enough for most families. This is supposed to be a happy time. No one needs to deal with more challenges when they get home!

Friday, December 09, 2005


We had a snow last night that left our woods a winter wonderland. It was even more beautiful earlier, but by the time I got out to take pictures, the sun had come out and a lot had melted.... The little building on the right is a cabin my husband and son built years ago as a play house. It is built over a little creek that flows along the side of the woods. The flat area in the front is our frozen pond.

This is our gazebo... It's at the closer side of the pond. Just thought it looked really picturesque..

In the summer, it's a pleasant place to sit and read or sketch .. a nice breeze blowing through it, a little shade and a beautiful view of the pond and the woods...

The vines growing up around it are trumpet vines that cover it pretty completely in the summer, but in the winter, they make an interesting tracery.

Our little Rudy just about lost his mind this morning when he went outside. He was the first one out in the 6" snow and it came to his shoulders. At first, he seemed bewildered. I guess he had forgotten about this stuff since last year. He gingerly walked out and then he fell in a lump.. like he thought this was just a special cushiony surface for his enjoyment. From that position, he started poking around with his nose and seemed to be trying to make little puppy snow angels.

When Bob went out with him to start cleaning up... shoveling, etc., Rudy thought it was a new game. I don't believe I've ever seen him so excited... leaping about and running in zig zag patterns across the walk.... So exhilarated - and so much fun to watch.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Again, something that is more or less uniquely "Lancaster County". Actually, this is unusual even here. I was a bit taken aback to see this one in a snall local strip mall parking lot. More common, is a hitching post especially for "The Carriage Trade" to make it convenient for our Amish neighbors to shop.

Recently, since the days are shorter and we have more night driving and icy windshields, there have been a number of accidents involving buggies. They are lit according to law, and even sport decidedly "worldly" (certainly not Amish) orange slow-moving vehicle triangles on the back, but every year there are terrible accidents.

The surprise of coming up on a slow moving buggy on a twisting back country road can test the best reflexes and often the accidents involve alcohol on the part of the car driver.

I wish we could all take a page out of their book and slow down enough to watch the world go by, but our fast paced society has lost that ability and seems to be taking it away from theirs.

Now the buggies have been relegated to the same status as roller blades and skateboards in our parking lots.... yep there was a sign about them, too.