Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A trip into the country

So, Last Thursday, I mentioned that we had seen an eagle in our travels. I'm not sure if I also mentioned that I have never seen an eagle in the wild before....

Yesterday, again on a delivery trip, what should swoop past our car and head up to the top of a huge electrical high tension tower? You guessed it, another eagle!

This time I stopped the car and I got out to take a picture. I even used the telescopic feature on the camera. You can see it is still somewhat blurred, but it is clearly a bald eagle.

Supposedly, the eagle is a symbol of great power and also a messenger of the gods.

I'm not sure exactly what it means, but we have been feeling as if there is something in the air recently business wise, personally... who knows? Seeing two within a week after a lifetime of never seeing them certainly should mean something. Or it's a coincidence....

On a more mundane vein, we were in Amish country, as usual, and when we stopped at the Bird-in-Hand Bakeshop to drop off a few boxes, I was attracted to the "barnyard" petting zoo by this gang of sleepy goats!

They look like the "Three Billy Goats Gruff" relaxing on the bridge after dispatching the nasty old troll!

Years ago, when we had our own little herd of Pygmy goats, my DH built them a jungle gym contraption with ramps and bridges like this one. They always seemed to want to be at the highest point. Must be some of that mountain goat blood still in them!

During our final stop of the day, at an Amish roadside stand, as we were getting ready to leave, this contraption drove past in the field across the road. He is cutting alfalfa hay.

While the "rig" is being pulled by mules, there is a piece of machinery on the back that seems to be gasoline powered. My husband called it a sickle bar.

Each little group of Amish has specific rules.. and they can vary one from the other. Some are absolutely opposed to any form of gasoline engine. Some allow machinery like this, but do not allow gasoline lawn mowers. Some are the reverse.

In the past, many farms had a "phone booth" at the end of the driveway that may have been shared with other families in the area for use in emergencies. It seems that now, more and more, many Amish, especially those in business use cell phones. I wondered why this is so, but it just occurred to me that one of the things that is not allowed is to be connected to the outside world by "wires". I believe the real reason phones were forbidden was to encourage family time and if you think about how much time you spend on the phone (or watching TV), ignoring your family, you will understand the theory. The age of wireless may be their undoing.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rosemary's & Sweet Remembrances

On Saturday, Tina & I attended a class with Rosemary Gladstar, sponsored by The Rosemary House in Mechanicsburg, PA. Rosemary is a well known herbalist and writer. When we had our shop, we sold some wonderful teas that she had designed as well as a number of her medicinal herbal books. It's interesting that even with so many "contacts", I had no real idea what to expect and was very pleasantly surprised with her lively and fascinating program.

I'm sure Tina will be blogging about her class, so I decided that someone should talk about the wonderful luncheon we were served at the tea room next door to the Rosemary House, Sweet Remembrances. Susanna Reppert Brill runs the herb shop, The Rosemary House, and her sister, Nancy Reppert runs Sweet Remembrances, next door. Whenever, there is a day long event at the Rosemary House, it includes a fabulous meal at Sweet Remembrances.

We had left home early in the pouring rain to get to the class and had no time for breakfast so we were especially happy to see the lovely hospitality spread when we arrived for the class. Nancy was smiling behind the table and so I knew, as I said to her, "When we see Nancy, we know good food is nearby." Good hot coffee and a selection of teas along with currant mini-muffins and a wonderful brown bread that made me forget I don't usually like raisins in baked goods.

We were in thrall of Rosemary as she passed on a vast amount of herbal knowledge and even though we ran well over the allotted time, when we arrived at the tea room, everything was ready for us and wonderful.

This was the table setting that awaited us, set with beautifully mismatched china teacups.

We were immediately served a piping hot pot of Forever Yours herbal tea, a longtime specialty of the Rosemary House. Each table had their own pot complete with quilted tea cozy.

I have to post a picture of Tina's teacup, just because we were so taken with it's unusual shape.

Okay - on to the meal. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of that - I was just too busy enjoying it!

First we were served a plate of little tortilla cups with salsa in a small Phyllo cup. It was delicious and just set the stage for the main course...

A wonderful quiche! That is an expression you will seldom see me type as my former experiences with quiches have been less than stellar! Others have been somewhat soggy or tasteless - this one was fabulous! I'm not sure what all Nancy put in it other than cheese and leeks, but the combination was just great. The quiche was accompanied by acorn squash rings cooked in cider and a wonderful salad of fresh greens. All the vegetables used were organically grown by a local CSA.

As if all this wasn't enough, dessert was a lovely gingerbread cake with a lemon sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.

I must say that I have eaten a few meals now at Sweet Remembrances and have always enjoyed them immensely. I suggest that if you are in our area and have any interest at all in herbs you should visit The Rosemary House (I believe they are in their 40th year) and if you can possibly do it, schedule a luncheon at Sweet Remembrances. You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

For the birds...

Another "birdie post" today.

A few weeks ago, on one of our deliveries to an Amish roadside stand, I took these pictures of birdhouses:The first one is a Martin House. I imagine they are common all over the place, but maybe not. Often these apartment houses for birds are placed high atop a pole hoping to lure a number of Martin families. Martins are said to feed on mosquitoes, so they are a welcome addition to a back yard to help keep the mosquito population down.

If you saw the movie "Witness" with Harrison Ford, you may remember seeing one of these houses in the yard of the farmer who took him in. Witness was actually filmed here in Lancaster County, PA.This second collection of houses are bird house gourds made into another apartment complex. They are hung high on a post, so I think they, too may be intended to lure the Martins. The white paint reflects the heat so they are somewhat air conditioned for their comfort!

This final picture is something I snapped today while we were out. Although you can't really tell what it is... okay, it's an eagle! As I approached some railroad tracks, I was surprised to see what I thought was a large hawk on a power line tower. I stopped and since nothing was coming, I told Tina to get out and see what she thought because by that time, I was thinking this was probably the biggest hawk I had ever seen.

She confirmed that it was an eagle and I tried to snap a picture (by pointing the camera backwards and setting it to telephoto.) Unfortunately it didn't come out too well! The poor thing looked pretty mangy and we can only assume (and hope) that it is molting.

It flew away shortly afterward, so this was the only shot I was able to get. An eagle, though is a very rare sight - especially as close to a populated area as we were.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Violet Storm

It took a little longer than I had planned, but here's the purple organic that I feel I may have overdone. It's called Violet Storm: I just love the pale, pale lavender that I used for the tiny dots and couldn't seem to stop following the swirls around the bead! I love seeing the tiny silver dots and swirls in the closeup: I suspect I'll have to actually make something with it before I can really tell if it is overdone.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Green .. and a little purple too.

I found a couple of hours yesterday to continue my exploration of organic beads and was excited to go out to the kiln this morning to find this little treasure!

I was working on getting more depth and think I succeeded. Here's a close up of the flow:

I'm having so much fun with the little dots that I may have gotten carried away. Actually, I like them in this one, but you'll see in the purple bead I'll show later....

There's a problem currently with the photo uploader, so I'll give Blogger a chance to correct it and be back later.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Something new for me

Oooh! I'm really excited about these. I decided to just play with an organic look yesterday. I didn't make many, but each one took quite a while.

The first one is called "Rootbeer Cosmos". The silvered Ivory really sparkles and looks like a million stars in the backround as the "rootbeer" flows through it with little silvery bubbles following the stream.

I think it's probably just the monitor on my laptop, but the colors don't seem to be as vibrant on these pictures as they are in real life.

But... the dots! They went on so beautifully and I knew where I was putting them. I know it's strange for me to be so excited about that. but it still amazes me what a huge difference wearing a different lens prescription makes.

I guess ever since I took part in the pendant swap I've been concentrating more on larger beads rather than sets.

To the right is "Grape Peacock". It looks like a silvery peacock melted into a bead and the grapes floated to the top... Strange, I know, but that's what I see.

These were just fun to work with and then when I pulled them out of the kiln and they looked good ... well! I love it when a plan comes together.

These two are the best that came out of the kiln and I guess I'll be trying a few more soon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Charmed, I'm sure....

The title isn't original, since it was the name of the charm bracelet swap I was in (what seems like) a few months ago.

Well, this is the result. There was no theme - no rhyme nor reason so the charms. It still turned out pretty well and certainly makes an interesting conversation piece.

Plus, it matches everything!

It is interesting having charms from all over the US and a few from overseas as well. I hesitated to put it all together for fear I would forget where all the charms came from, but luckily one of the participants photoed and labeled all the charms separately and posted a PDF of the sheet. Now I can identify the makers easily. I will keep the sheet with the charm bracelet.

I had a hard time coming up with my lowly charm for this one, but then someone suggested a hometown charm bracelet.

That sounded great! I love a theme and Lancaster, PA is loaded with symbols.

The most obvious would be the red rose and that was my first thought, but then I started thinking about all the other things that say Lancaster and Lancaster County. Quilts, produce, Conestoga wagons... and Redware pottery.

I think I actually talked about this before, but these will be my contribution to this bracelet.

After we were set on the hometown theme, someone had mentioned an affirmation theme as well and somehow, that became part of the same swap.

15 people to a group and 3 groups going at a time...

I was thinking of somehow using the Chinese coins I had in the last swap, but settled on a single lampworked bead.

With an affirmation to choose... how about prosperity? Hmmm... a lucky coin and a fish, both symbols of prosperity. A green fish no less.

Now, how to identify it? Oooh I had some Shrinky Dink plastic around and started playing with it. I tried stamping, but the ink wasn't working well with the plastic. I noticed that the gold marker I had used to add a few little flourishes had stayed well, so I reached for a darker sheet and used the gold marker on the brown plastic.

I wasn't able to fit the whole word "Prosperity" on the size I needed it to be, so I just went with "Prosper". I'm pretty pleased with both the charms for this one and I am way ahead of the game sincce they aren't due until Dec. sometime.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I can hardly wait!

This has been an interesting year. I haven't done any "bead shows" as a vendor this year and I must say I miss it, but I still seem to be connecting with people who like what I do.

I've been collecting emails from happy customers. I keep them so that on those days when I feel that I've just lost it, I can read them and have my confidence bolstered.

You may know that we live on a Christmas Tree farm. That means that our busy season is rapidly approaching. We've been putting together a little "gifts and goodies" shop for the past couple of years and it's a nice outlet for soap, Tina's books and magazine, for my jewelry and for all the other little myriad projects we collaborate on during the year.

This is my jewelry display from the shop at Frog Hollow last year.

I have a lot of new things to bring out this year and I can hardly wait to see our customers from years past along with some who we met at some of the herb fairs we did this year and at our little local market that we did on Saturday mornings this summer.

We've decided not to do the PA Farm Show this year. Somehow the physical consequences just don't balance the monetary rewards for me. We were sick for a month following the show and apparently this is the case for all the humans and animals who are a part of it. I'm just too old to play that game any more.

That means we won't be making soap like madwomen during the Christmas season and will be able to enjoy it. It's soon time to send out our reminder post cards. A couple of trees are already marked for the years.... I can hardly wait!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Evolution of the Rest Stop

Today's post has nothing to do with any of my usual topics, but I'm in a group of bloggers and we were challenged to just blog about something we saw yesterday, so...

We drove down to Philadelphia yesterday on the PA Turnpike. We, of course stopped at one of the rest stops on the way there and it started me thinking.

When I was a little girl, for a few years, we lived in Columbus, OH while my father was in the Air Force. I vaguely remember a number of trips back and forth to visit family here in Central PA. One of the high points of the trip was driving through the long tunnels that were blasted through the mountains. Each family member in the car was told to make an animal noise so that the whole time we were inside the mountain, we were either crowing, mooing, barking, neighing or making some other bizarre animal noise. We must have sounded like the Brementown musicians! I'm not sure why this was done, probably to relieve the tension, because as an adult the tunnels creep me out!

The other thing that relieved the monotony of the drive was stopping at one of the rest stops along the highway. At that time, Howard Johnson's had the contract for the entire PA Turnpike. Their orange roofs and neon signs were such a cheerful sight, promising excitement to a 4 year old girl!

I don't remember much about the food, but I do remember that one time when we visited the bathrooms, there was something very different about the seats. Apparently the latest in modern hygiene was electronically cleaned seats. When the toilets were flushed, the seats raised up into a recess in the wall where they were disinfected by a vibrant blue light. I only remember that on one trip, but it definitely made a big impression.

Ho-Jo's ruled the PA Turnpike for a long time and we always knew exactly what to expoect, but as years passed, the rest stops changed. Suddenly we had choices! Sometimes there would be a MacDonald's or a Roy Rogers - it was quite exciting.

In the past 20 years or so, bit by bit, all the rest stops have been totally revamped. Each one is different, so you never know for sure what is available at each one. I imagine the American traveler expects more choices now than they did in the early days of the turnpike.

When we stopped yesterday, I was hopping to pick up a few soft pretzels, but then we noticed a Starbucks around the corner, so we also got some Danish to munch on along the way.

One rest stop on the way home offers a S'barros (Stuffed Pizza!), a Roy Rogers, a Cinnabon, a Starbucks and a new buffet style sandwich and salad place that just replaced the old Nathan's.

A couple of years ago, Tina and I drove out towards Chicago twice in one summer - this involved a lot of highways - and rest stops. I must say we enjoy them and were quite impressed by the various offerings in different states. But by the second return trip home, they had lost some of their charm!

Yup, they've come a long way, and I suppose the 4 year olds now are a lot more jaded than I was, but I bet they are every bit as happy as I was to get out of that car and check out the excitement of the rest stop.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Crystal Inspiration

I've had this crystal for a week or two. You may not be able to tell from the picture, but the crystal itself is about 3 inches long. I took pictures of both sides outside in our overcast morning light, so it doesn't have the sparkle it should, but I was too excited to care!

The crystal came along with the fluorite I showed a couple of days ago from Roe. I told her I'd try to wrap them for her and the fluorite went very quickly and easily.

This was another matter. It was irregular and just needed some kind of special treatment. She sent a broken bracelet that had a few different heart shaped stone beads, just in case I could work them into the piece.

I held it in my hand, tried a couple of things with scrap wire to see where the wires had to be placed to hold it securely, but wasn't inspired as to how to finish it off. I wanted to wrap it well and beautifully, but not overwhelm the stone itself. Tina suggested some kind of spider web look, but I wasn't sure how to pull it off.

Yesterday afternoon, I got out a bunch of old bead magazines and was drawn to one picture in particular. It had this webbed ladder-type of wrap used as a feature in the setting and suddenly I knew how to finish this.

After it was started, I couldn't put it down because it was one of those "automatic" things where I wasn't sure if I was directing it or the stone itself. There were little nooks and crannies that needed a special touch and there I added the stone hearts she had sent, along with silver beads, and a few curlicues.

Wire wrapping was never my "thing", but I have really enjoyed the things I have been doing lately and this one was just magickal!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Vibrant Autumn

Thought I'd start you out with a seasonal picture I snapped at an Amish roadside stand here in Lancaster County.

The scarlet hibiscus spilling over the bright orange pumpkins were so striking - they could be an inspiration for a gorgeous bead or set.

Speaking of striking, I'm not sure if I showed this set before.

I wear this color combination so much, especially in the summer. Jeans and bright green or other bright colored T-shirt.

I've been trying to get something made to match those bright combos and always seem to go off track before I actually get to the intended set.

The stringers will be pulled, the colors chosen, but then for some reason or other, something else will happen.

I'll just decide to make a big focal and start scrolling, entranced with the color reactions....

Or, lately, I get out the enamels and see what happens with this color or that and how it looks with various colors added.

The one to the left, I call Jade Garden. The teal stringer became a lovely jade color on the ivory base.

The one to the right, I call "Connect the Dots" It looks like a blue enamelware basin, but connect the dots seemed to fir it better!

Another bracelet made with some enamel experiments. I really like this combination of colors and oddly enough, it seems to go with many many outfits!

Finally, a pendant I put together featuring a large focal I call "Broken China" because it reminds me of a shard of fine china polished into a lentil shape.

The stone leaf is one of a strand I picked up at a show last year and haven't really done anything with yet.

This time of year is so vibrant. Very inspiring and energizing.

My plan is to get out the oranges and reds and see what happens at the torch today. We'll see what really happens!