Sunday, October 29, 2017

Fall over the cliff

Warning, this is going to be a sad blog.  I like to try to keep things happy in my life but sometimes it is just not possible.  This is one of those times.

My husband of 46 years, Jack E. Balonis, passed on October 10, 2017.  It was quite sudden and a total shock.  He was all set to come to Florida in just a few more days.  A close friend found him in our driveway in Massachusetts.  I pray his passing was quick for him. 

We had a unique arrangement over our last years, which, for the most part, suited us.  We talked an average of 3 times a day, two of the calls at an appointed time of the day and the third rather random.  Sometimes we spoke many more times in the day, on rare occasions, not at all.  Sometimes we would talk a long time.  He had a way of making a short story into a long novel.  We visited back and forth between our two homes.  It wasn't perfect, but for a number of reasons, it worked for us.

The void in my heart and in each day is real.  I know it will get better.  Each milestone to be crossed will be a reminder of the change in my life without him.  Each day the phone calls are missed.  We talked about all kinds of things every day, some rather silly, but I miss the constant connection we shared.  I've always had my good morning and good night calls and the other random chats with Jack making me whole.    We had our many visits where each of us did some chore to help with maintaining two houses.

The house we built together will be gone before I know it.  He cleared the trees off of lots for other people by dropping the pine trees to build the house.  He worked the lumber yard for years to cut the trees into boards of all the different kinds needed for the design.  We were there for construction every day as we walked up to see what was done from our apartment just down the hill.  It was our shared dream home.  It is quite spectacular.  Environmentally sound, engineered for efficiency, passive solar, and unique.  I will miss it.  Part of me would love to wrap myself back into that house and a cocoon of love and memories but it is quite impossible.  I could not cope with the long steep hill in winter, the New England cold, the dreary days of winter so common up there and finally, most of my family and friends are not there....only memories.  I will miss the spectacular sunrises from our hill and well, the house that Jack built.

So now I am starting to carry on alone without him.  I am a solitary person, content to do many things alone.  I go for my walks alone, I ride my bicycle alone, I bead alone, usually shop alone and eat alone.  I'm used to that, it is normal for me.  This, however, is not a normal time in my life.  I am quite sad and feel quite empty.  My family and friends are supportive and it does help.  As in most life changing events we cope differently.  I will find my way as I strive to go forward without the man who has been with me for over 46 years.  It will not be easy.  I will be different, but I will go on.

To all who have been there to support me and continue to support me, thank you.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer of Dreams

I am enjoying a relaxing summer filled with lots of different chores and beady projects.  After the relief of turning in my book to the publisher at Bead and Button, I have found a lot of time.  I am no longer chained to my computer diagraming and checking patterns.  The book took a lot out of me yet I am so excited to talk about it.  When I know something more about the time line, name, cover and other bits of information on the pending BOOK, you will know!  Right now I'm enjoying a dreamy summer.

One of the areas of my life that I knew needed to be restored was a better balance of my time.  And that is what is happening this summer.  Doing some things other than so many bead related tasks is a good thing.  Lots of neglected chores and daily living tasks are getting done. 

I am getting out in the morning for my walk.  I enjoy seeing the birds and water around me.

With some help, I am also spending some time and energy getting my yard in better shape.  I'm doing more cleaning of neglected areas.  Little by little the house and yard is taking shape.

Speaking of cleaning, that also included kitty baths.  They do not particularly enjoy this task. An early morning bath followed by sunbathing on the porch to dry.

Of course I've been beading.  Some UFO's have been done.    Projects started months ago have taken shape.  I have actually made some pieces for me with no intended purpose.  Not for a class or for a kit but just because.  That is a wonderful thing.
New kit projects and color combinations are in progress for the sales table at BeadFest Philly and Tacoma.

And of course Bead and Button 2018 class proposals are almost finished.

I also gave in to the little voice in me telling me to re-join my local gym.  I just don't seem to be able to walk as long each morning in the heat as I would like to get in my steps.  So late after noon or early evening, depending on my mood, I go to the gym to walk some more.  To kill the boredom on a tread mill I listen to books on tape.  It is more entertaining for me than TV.  Maybe I'll progress to use a machine other than the tread mill, but at this point, I'm quite happy with just walking.  Getting my 10,000 daily steps on my Fitbit is a great thing.  And I feel even better when it is over 15,000 steps.  My next little goal during this summer of dreams, is to dust off the bicycle and get out to do some peddling.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Ready set GO!

I'm off to the annual Bead and Button show in Milwaukee, WI.  My bags are packed.  Many items already shipped to help lighten the load.  I always feel a little better when I get to my hotel with my luggage and boxes all arrived safe and sound.  But not every being is happy with my pending departure.  All three of my cats have taken turns sitting on my suitcase.

I have some special kits in limited quantity which will be released first on Friday Night at Meet the Teachers.  I also will have some one of a kind finished earrings, all unique, and all bead embroidery available. I wanted to do something special to bring customers to me at that event.  I'm excited about offering these special items at that event first.  I expect some may sell out there.  The coupon in your show registration goodie bag will only be honored at MTT.  She's a Suburban Girl is limited to 7 kits!  I wanted more but this is it!  And I won't be asking the artist to do more for me as it is time to move on.  This little collage is just a sample of what is to be offered first at MTT.

I am also selling at Moonlight Madness and in the Show room all weekend.  Loads more kits including newly released Tila or Tile Mosaic.

In addition to the show items, I am also hand carrying the pieces to go in my book.  I meet my editor with Kalmbach books on Wednesday.  We do have a little video clip planned.  I'm a little nervous about that!  I have practiced a few times.  I even got a special manicure for the taping.  Mostly they will be looking at my old hands.  I have not been video taped for production for DECADES. 

The book is expected to be published late spring.  I hope before Bead and Button 2018.  To say this has been an experience is an understatement.  Many times I said that I will never do this again.  And I believe that, but you never know do you?  I will miss wearing some of these pieces for almost a year!  And I am very grateful to several ladies who made extra samples knowing they would also have to wait a year before getting their pieces back.

I look forward to life after B&B&B.  Bead and Button and Book.  This past month has been crazy busy with those two big things happening at the same time.  I suppose I could have pushed to have one or the other done a couple months ago.  Right!  Seriously, who can do that?

I hope to see some of you in Milwaukee!  Say HI!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Lions and Tigers and Bears!

Oh My!  Or in my case it is more like Needles, and Thread, and Beads!  Oh My!  (You can't imagine how difficult it was to type Bears not Beads in the title.)

My life is pretty much consumed by beads and related items right now.  I am frankly more than a little out of balance.  Beads have pushed several things out of my world for the time being and some of it is not good.  I look forward to getting back into balance after the Bead and Button in June.

There is no hope before June, as that is my book deadline, as well as the various Bead and Button requirements deadline.  So right now, I work on kits for B&B, I work on a book pattern, I advertise some other bead event or prepare a proposal to each elsewhere.  I work on some special material for my Meet the Teachers Table at B&B, then I edit some more, and simultaneously try to create a couple new things for the book, for Trendsetters, and for my local stores.  In the back of my mind, I keep thinking, what am I going to have ready to submit for B&B 2018??  So much of my new work is going into the book.  Then I pack up and travel somewhere to teach or bead.  I'm not complaining really.  I love my beady life.  I really do enjoy all the travelling.  I just miss a few parts of my other life.

What is missing?  My exercise routine is a disaster.  My house cleaning is a disaster.  My continuous de-clutter process is mostly on hold.  My gardening just isn't happening.  Any visiting with family or friends happens only in conjunction with beads.

I miss my bicycle.  My only peddling is on my stationary, under the desk, bicycle.  I've gotten pretty good at peddling and typing but it is pretty hopeless to draw a line on a diagram and peddle.  I've tried.  I want to get back on my road bicycle, that will be a part of restoring some balance.  I used to go to a gym too, carving out enough time to get my exercise back in balance is a priority.

My daily morning walks are more like weekly.  I missed the spring chick season entirely.  I look at photo's and remember how really cool it is to watch them grow.  I love early morning walks.  It cleans out my mind.  It is also when I am the most creative and able to do my most productive work.  Yes indeed, work.

Cleaning happens a little, with 3 cats and allergies, it has to.  I can tell when it gets too bad, my asthma kicks up.  I'm not complaining, asthma hasn't bothered me in almost 50 years.  I am very thankful that it took this long to come back.  Somehow in the last few months it has re-surfaced.  Could that protective layer of dust on things combined with dust curls and cat hair be part of the cause?  I long to spend days cleaning, tossing out, and de-cluttering.  Don't worry, I find good homes for most things, particularly the beads.  I have hit critical mass on the need to clean, simplify, and organize.  I've lived here about as long as anywhere, almost 12 years.  You know, moving is a great motivator to de-clutter and clean.  It has been too long, two of my three cats have never moved.  Of course they would hate it.  I'm not ready to move yet, but I need to do an imitation of the process to really clean out.

One way I de-clutter is to follow a principle learned decades ago while working for the Army reserve as a civilian.  In short, I try to follow the NUMS-IT principle.  Things must meet that criterion to be saved.  I must truly N = Need it; U = Use it; M = Maintain it; and S = Store it.  I can be pretty ruthless to dispose or donate items.  I'm trying to tackle that a little bit, a teeny weeny bit, each day.  I look forward to some major clean out this summer!  Clutter, as it grows,  really starts to pile in on me and depresses my creative spirit.  Out Out damn spot (clutter).

Organizing is in sore need of a major overhaul.  My desk top is a pile.  Some major sorting and putting things away must happen soon.  I long to find the top of my work space.  Good thing right now it is quite nice on my porch, I gather things and work out there during the day.....that is when I'm not in front of this keyboard working on patterns.  Yes, working, yet, I'm retired?
Needless to say the diet part of my life is another disaster.  It also needs a major overhaul.  Good eating habits gone to fast food is not a good thing.  Where is my afternoon fruit and green mix smoothie?

As the book and show deadlines approach, the stress increases.  I don't know whether this book will be a one shot wonder or something I may do again.  Time will tell.  For now, with only weeks to go, I think I must have been totally crazy.  When I pass off the manuscript, projects, and other material to the publisher at B&B, I will breathe a big sigh of relief.  But of course, I know, at that time, it won't be over......edits will commence won't they?   Right now it is time to work on a project for the book again.  Yet, I'm supposed to be sort of retired.  This is all a bit much, I think I'll go for a walk.  Don't expect to see another Blog until mid June. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Prong

I love being a Starman Trendsetter.  I love seeing the new beads before they come out, designing with them, and dreaming up fun new things.  It is a great thing for me for inspiration and to boost my creativity.  The new Starman beads being released in conjunction with the BIG Tucson show includes two that I am totally enamored with, the CzechMate 2 hole Cabochon and the Prong.  I love them.

Having said that, I do get it with the new beads.  They are coming out like dandelions popping up on a summer lawn.  A couple are ok but a whole field of them?  Not so much.  As much as I love new beads, I do hear the comments from students and customers......enough already.  And the poor store owners!!  The internet stores have it easy compared to a physical store front business.  If money were not the issue, space certainly will be!  Which of the many new beads will be a one night stand vs. a keeper that will continue to be requested by customers?

And another thing, the new beads seem to be published in the magazines with designs using them nearly filling some issues.  They are fun, but these new 'beads de jour' releases are a bit overwhelming.  I have heard more than once that people want to see designs with what they have, not have to go on a hunt for yet another new bead.  So I get it, I really do.

Now the Prong...  Sometimes I am a tad lazy.  I want to quickly get beyond the cabochon focal of a bead embroidery piece to actually get really creative.  Working with peyote using seed beads slows down that process.  There is nothing wrong with it.  I admire those that love doing it.  It just isn't me.  Enter the Prong.  This little tooth like bead, which is sort of like a half a Crescent, is perfection.  

Gone are the days for me to just stare at my stash of cabochons and think that I should do SOMETHING with them.  I can quickly capture the cab and move on.  I'm sure that there will be abundant uses in bead weaving for this little gem as well.  But on my bead table it will be frequently used for a cab capture.

What I have learned in the process is to back stitch with the prong and a seed bead alternating.  I have used both size 11 and size 8 seed beads with equal success.  After the first back stitch row I have found the second row around works best with another seed bead sewn down on the foundation between the butts of the Prong bead  all around.  The seed bead will fill the little space between the Prong beads from butt to butt.

From there you can do anything your heart desires for your bead embroidery piece.  Consider using the other newly released CzechMate bead, the Cabochon by Starman.  Like other beads in the CzechMate system of beading, the holes are aligned to other beads, brick, tile, crescent etc. facilitating bead weaving.  They are a great little add on for your bead embroidery as well.  Yes, there are similar beads out there that are 2 hole cabs but the color scheme used by Starman will be best when using beads from the same manufacturer.  And the little dome of this bead does add some great texture.  It is a CzechMate bead and for that desired texture I am sure you will see bead weaving designs popping up soon as well.

When you have a chance give the Prong a try.  This piece is called the Lazy Lacy Cabochon and the project sheet is available free.  It will not include step by step instructions for stitches like back stitch, edging or the bail but it talks about what I did with a couple drawings and pictures.  It is very simple just to inspire you to give these little gems a try.  It is available on my web site to print.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Little Pollyanna in Me

Here it is the day after Christmas and I am thinking, good it is over.  I can be glad in that.  I am not fond of Christmas any more.  I have many happy memories of past years but time has changed many things associated with those happy memories so I no longer like the season.  I won't get into all of that.  I know I am not alone with my feelings about the season.   But today I woke up and had happy thoughts that it is over, I am glad, and I don't have to deal with it all for another year.

That made me think of many times that I was accused of being a "Pollyanna".  For those of you too young to remember that Disney movie staring Haley Mills, a theme in the movie was the 'glad game' finding things to be glad about in a difficult situation.  Also the movie ended up with a phrase that she was looking for the good in people and found it.  When people at work would accuse me of that attitude, I would tell them "OK, I can think of lots worse things to be accused of.".  Much of that attitude in me has hardened over the years.  Being a Pollyanna resulted in quite a few times where I really ended up with a 'knife in my back' due to what I was told was na├»ve attitude about people.  Ok, I'll take it.  I have learned to be more cautious and that is sad in a way but it was a life lesson I guess I needed to learn.

I spent most of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day binging on Downton Abby.  It isn't a Pollyanna series, there is a lot of sorrow in it.  But they seem to come thru and get on with life in high fashion and the series always makes me smile in the end, maybe thru a few tears.  And then there is the jewelry to look at!  What more can you ask for.  So I beaded and watched.  What better could I do (besides, shudder, clean) than watch that program and hide in my bead holes.  It was quite nice in Florida, so I was on my porch with my cats enjoying squirrels running around on the deck.  It was good.

I still have a bit of Pollyanna in me and I'm GLAD of her in me.  I like to look at things and find something to be glad about.  That has not been easy in this election year.  It seems the world is so filled with hate, prejudice, and so many other negative emotions.  I don't expect it to improve either. 

So I look forward to a year of beading with friends, teaching my passion for beading, sharing with others who love to bead.  I am quite glad I can bead and share that passion.  Yes, I hide from the world of negatives.  I prefer my beading to the reality of our world full of so much poison.  I will bead to be.  Pass me my rose colored glasses.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Shows in 2017

December brings browsing for the big bead shows in 2017.  I'm very excited to be going back to Santa Fe, NM in March to teach at BeadFest.  I love it out West.  That is no secret to anyone who really knows me.  I am equally excited with my classes for Bead and Button in Milwaukee, WI in June. 

The Santa Fe show is open for browsing now and you will be able to register December 15.  Dreaming about early spring time is fun when it is cold!  My friend Pamela Garbig will be going along with me and she is teaching in Albuquerque March 26.  I will not have an artisan table in Santa Fe.
I'm teaching 3 classes in Santa Fe.  Hippie Girl, a favorite of mine because it is funky.  I've always loved funky.  Hippie Girl is being taught in Santa Fe only at this point.  Obsessed is a wide cuff with a variety of beads.  Studs and Diamonds is a show stopper.

In Milwaukee, I'm adding Top This Cuff, Button Jewel, Caterpillar on a Tile Road and Going to the Ball along with Studs and Diamonds and Obsessed.  Top This is exclusive to Bead and Button as I have a limited quantity of the material used and some parts are no longer available.  Browsing for Bead and Button should be open any day now and for people who attended in the past, the catalog mailed about December 1.  Registration for Bead and Button is January 3rd CST.

In addition to teaching at these two big national shows, I am teaching two of these bracelets at Bead Week in Tampa, FL in March.  Other national instructors will be attending Bead Week as well.  I am teaching Going to the Ball, Caterpillar on a Tile Road, and A Moment in Time during this event.  See for details.  Registration for this event will officially start January 2nd.  March is a great time to visit Florida.
I am applying to teach for Bead Fest in Philly in August and hope that will happen.  That application process has begun but any selection will happen about February.  I do expect to have an artisan table in Philly. 

I love teaching at retreats and bead shops and want to discuss any options with you! 

Ok, now back to your regular programming.