Monday, November 30, 2009

i'll shop later

I must be a terrible business woman, and an even worse consumer. I missed Black Friday on all counts. No shopping, so selling. Instead Rick and I were on the road, traveling from Ashland to San Jose for a family send-off for my nephew Kevin, who's on his way to the Coast Guard today. It was a terrific party, and while we're all so darn proud of Kevin, I'm equally proud of his mom - my little sister, Jill. She's raised two great boys, she went all out in throwing this party, and she held it all together with a lot of grace and good humor, which couldn't have been easy when sending her baby off into the big military world. My hat's off to Jill, and my love goes with Kevin. This is new to all of us, and we'll all stick together, as we always do. We're family, after all, and before all else.

We woke up Sunday to one of those glorious California days that come along too rarely, even here. The sun was shining, the air was soft and warm, and the call of the ocean, just over the hill, was too loud to ignore. Rick and I drove over and spent the day walking on the beach, watching the surfers, and eating fish & chips on the pier. The sun dancing on the water was so bright we both had to buy sunglasses. I guess we did our part for the economy, spending $24 on cheap-but-stylish shades. Of all the days I've spent in Santa Cruz, and there have been many, it was the most perfect day ever. I'm still beaming, just thinking about it.

Apparently today is Cyber Monday, when all good Americans should be shopping online. Normally I'd be posting new beads today, as I do most Mondays, but today I'll be back in the truck, driving back to Ashland. Is this bad business? Am I going to miss out on the buying frenzy that's been artificially set up to happen on this particular day? I guess I don't really think so. I think I have a higher quality of customer than the average WalMart Shopper. I think they like that I have a big round life, filled with other things besides business, and I think they're patient enough to wait for the beads. I'm not exactly a slacker. I work hard to bring beauty to my corner of the world, and I love how that corner stretches across the world at times. In a broader sense, my Bead People are family too. Maybe it's the season, or maybe it's just taking a few days to rest and visit and give and receive a lot of hugs, but I'm feeling kind of warm and squishy this morning. Black Friday and Cyber Monday mean nothing. Business will go on as usual when I get back to Ashland, and the Beadists will get what they need from me without ever having to set foot in a mall. I feel pretty good about that. I feel pretty good about everything.

All the Party Pics on FaceBook
All the Santa Cruz Pics on FaceBook

Friday, November 27, 2009

shower heaven

The last time I was shower deprived was in 1975. I was 18 years old, just out of high school, and a few weeks into a three-month long road trip to Alaska with two friends. (I'll save you some math - I'm 52 now) We had been driving and tent camping from San Jose through California, Oregon, Washington, and Canada, and while pay showers were available in a lot of the places we stayed, somehow two weeks had gone by with no real means of good personal hygiene. I'm sure I tried to keep the stink down with splashes of water here and there, but I'm appalled now at that kind of time going by without a good steady stream of hot water running over my young hippie body. What can I say... I was different then.

When we got to the Alaskan ferry that would take us up the inland passage for several days, the first thing I did was head for the showers. Word on the street was they never ever ran out of hot water. I peeled off my grimy army surplus clothes and stepped in with a bottle of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap, and didn't come out for a full two hours. True story, I swear. I washed and washed until I was good and convinced that I was clean, head to toe, over and over. Then I just stood there and let the water run over me. It never did get cold, and a shower has never felt so good in all my life.

We drove from Ashland to San Jose today, for some family time and a big send-off for my nephew Kevin, who's about to join the Coast Guard. After five months of living in our trailer, we're staying in a hotel. The first thing Rick said when we came into the room was, Did you see the shower??? It didn't occur to me until that moment that I have once again been shower deprived. Five months of using our microscopic RV shower has gotten me used to low water pressure and minimal hot water. Sure we get clean on a daily basis, but Rick's head sticks up into the sky light, I have to wash my hair in the morning and the rest of me at night, and when I really splurge and take a "long" shower, I'm in there for about ninety seconds at the most before the water goes cold. I stepped into that great big, grown-up size shower tonight and said to myself, I am never getting out of here. I think I only stayed about six minutes, but it felt like a lifetime, and the water never went cold. What luxury. I know I'm supposed to be telling you about the high points in this search for Home we're on, and believe me, this really is one of them. One thing I know - when we find Home, it will have a really nice shower.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Today feels like a holiday already. People started arriving last night, and my darling Danny will be here this afternoon. I'll be making beads today, but probably won't get a lot done with all the action happening around me. I don't mind. I'd rather play anyway.

I got up early and made the cranberries for tomorrow's feast. I love making them, and of course I change up the recipe on the bag a bit. I cook them in apple juice instead of water, with some grated orange zest. I used to try to substitute honey for sugar, but now I figure that's kind of pointless. Some days I just go ahead and eat the white stuff.

If you've never made fresh cranberries, I so recommend that you try it this year. They're far superior to the canned ones, and really easy to make. I love how they roll around in the saucepan, and then begin to pop, pop, pop and make a lovely pink foam that quickly cooks down to a rich molten ruby goo that smells just fabulous, and thickens up nicely in the fridge. I always make way too much - a huge bowl full - because I happen to like them a lot. I treat them more as a side dish than a condiment for the turkey I don't even eat anymore. You can keep the bird. I'll take the trimmings.

Lauren usually helps me make the cranberries, but she can't be here this year. I'm missing her, and Julia too. But Lucy sat right by me as I stirred the berries this morning, filling in as cook's helper. She even ate a raw cranberry when I tossed it to her. What a weird dog. But I think Lauren will like knowing that her pal Lucy did her best to save Lauren's place for next year. This year is kind of strange and unsettled, but it's still... fun. I'm having a lot of fun. And cranberries.

Monday, November 23, 2009

new inspiration

I never get tired of pondering inspiration and how it comes to us. It's always so surprising and also so expected when something new pops up. I've known for a long time that if I let the inspiration flow, there will always be more. I know there's not a limit on creativity, except for limits we put on ourselves. People who claim they don't have a creative bone in their bodies drive me nuts. We are creative beings who come from Divine Creativity, and each of us has our own form of creative expression. It's easier to spot in some people over others, but I believe in my bones that everybody, everybody is creative.

I've been looking at the curtains in our trailer for almost five months now, thinking how the crazy flowers in them might lend themselves to a good bead design.

It didn't go any further than the thinking phase until the other day, when my friend Deborah sent me a link to

I spent an entire wash and dry cycle in the park laundry room, immersed in this beautiful site. It spoke to me. I even have some of the same gypsy images on my beautiful Bead Chest, remember?

The next day, boom, there were new beads just pouring out of my hands. I can never take credit for new stuff when it happens. I know it doesn't come from me, but through me, and when it happens this way, it's a ridiculous amount of fun. Look at this bead. It's crazy! And it looks nothing like my curtains, but the curtains are in there too. That's what I'm talking about when I say Divine Inspiration. Hooo-La! It's such a romp to sit back and watch the sparks fly!

I used to teach beadmaking, but stopped a few years ago, although I wasn't sure why, except that it just didn't make me happy. I think I've finally figured it out. I think that when I teach someone how to do what I do, in the way that I do it, it hampers their own Divine Creative Connection. It doesn't serve their higher purpose to try to make beads just like mine, and my limitations as a teacher don't allow me to be vague enough to show them just the nuts and bolts and let them run from there. Teaching is not my talent, just like knitting or cooking might not be yours. We all have to go with our strengths, and let someone else take over where we're lacking. Isn't it lucky that we all have different talents and skills and interests? Together we all keep this big ball spinning, and it spins the best when we just relax and let the inspiration flow. I have more of these beads in the kiln this morning. I can't wait to see them, and I can't wait to make more. What a ride this is. What a ride.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

making do

Sometimes I forget that this is exactly what I signed up for, this "simple" little life. Sometimes I even go so far as to wonder what the hell I'm doing here. The open road and the mobile life are meant for motion. It becomes a totally different thing once you decide to stay in one place. On the upside, rent is cheap, our diesel bill has dropped off to almost nothing, and we have zero yard work to bother with. On the down side, we live in a really tiny space, the internet doesn't work in our "coach", and I really can't make beads in the trailer after all. It's just too messy and glassy for cramped quarters. Fortunately, I have Mitzi's garage/studio to work in, and equally fortunately, she's in love with making beads now too, so I'm able to repay her for her space by sharing my torch and glass and expertise. It seems like a winning deal for both of us. I use the internet here too, which is also nice and convenient - unless I want to check my email or write a blog from my own humble home. It's frustrating to always have to schlep my computer to someplace else just to take care of business. This morning I needed to check on some bead orders before I could wrap and ship everything, so I toddled on over to the chilly Game Room, and set up shop on the pool table. I grumbled the whole way over there, feeling like I shouldn't have to put up with such primitive conditions. I'm trying to run a business, for goodnesssakes, and I feel a lot more like Mad Max than Donald Trump... which come to think of it, might be a good thing. But the point is, after several days of bitching and whining, I'm kind of OK with just making do... I can't expect things to be different than what they are, or the same as they were someplace else. Somewhere down the line I want an actual house again, with a yard I can let the dogs romp in, a pretty little studio, and internet that works indoors, all the time, and of course, whatever Rick wants too. I don't think it's asking too much. But for now, well, good enough is good enough. We really like it here in Ashland, and doing it this way, we get to keep checking things out before we make any big commitments.

Monday, November 16, 2009

dad, can i borrow the car keys?

I drove today, for the first time in almost five months. There's something pretty wrong with that, isn't there? It's not that I haven't gone anywhere, but when a girl has a driver, might as well let him drive. Rick loves to drive, so I just jump in the passenger seat without giving it a thought. But the poor guy has the flu, some kind of flu.. I don't know which one, but it's got him flat on the couch, which in itself is no fun, because the couch is actually a loveseat, and Rick is 6'4". Poor baby. I mean really. Poor baby.

So I jumped in the big-ass truck this morning to run for provisions, and ten seconds down the road I got a big grin on my face and said to myself, driving is fun. I'd forgotten. Too bad the dear man had to get sick for me to take a turn behind the wheel. But at least I didn't forget how to drive. I don't have a picture for you, for reasons that I'm sure are obvious. Now I need to power through my work day, run Lucy to the dog park, and get back home to tend to my poor sick sweetie. I left him there with sick people stuff like ginger tea, apple sauce, chicken soup, a National Geographic, and a new fleece blankie. I do hope he'll be well soon, and I also hope I stay well. There's just no time for being sick in my little world. I will find other reasons to drive.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

our 17th anniversary

Rick and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary yesterday. We spent the afternoon in town, repelling raindrops with the black and red polka dot umbrella we bought on our honeymoon in Victoria, BC all those years ago. Ashland is gearing up for Christmas, with lights and decorations going up everywhere. They even put up a seasonal ice skating rink in a small parking lot across from Lithia Park. This place is so adorable. It's such a community. I could get used to this.

We had no success with picture taking all day, so later in the evening, back at home, we decided to try taking one of ourselves. The kids are so good at this. We are not. My new camera even has a setting for "take a picture of yourself". We did a terrible job, but the result reminds me of an old photo booth. Silly and fun, like the rest of a silly and fun day together. After 17 years, we still like hanging out.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

first little snow

You can't see it here, but it was snowing this morning. Too soon, says Mitzi, but weather patterns have been known to change when I come around. It looked so pretty falling in the pond that Mitzi lovingly dug and built with her own little hands. There is nothing my cousin can't do. And now she can make beads too. I'll show you soon, and yes, I will encourage you to buy her beads as well as mine! The snow only fell for a few minutes this morning, but Mitzi has been at the torch all day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

so quiet

This is weird. I don't have anything to say. Nothing. How very odd. I'm reading "Bird By Bird", in which Anne Lamott assures us that it's important to write. I agree. It's important for somebody to write, but me? I don't know. Still, I want you to get your money's worth, so I'll see if I can find my way back to my old writing obsession. Meanwhile, I have this darling new camera, so I think I'll make use of it. How about if I find something interesting in my little world every day and do some show and tell? If I can't find something worth sharing each day, it's because I have my eyes closed.

Today I looked out the window toward the creek and saw this lovely view. This is my backyard right now. Sure, I live in a little metal box, but I do love our little creek side place in the world. There we go... I feel better now.

Monday, November 9, 2009

a pretty good week

I don't seem to have enough time to work. There's too much fun going on! But maybe what's really happening is I'm finally finding some balance in my life. For years and years it's been all about work. I guess it would still be that way if I had my own studio, so it's a good thing I'm sharing with Mitzi. This way I have to be out of there sometimes so she can do her stuff. The way it's working at the moment is I do my internet stuff at her house on Mondays, instead of in the chilly game room at the RV park. Mitzi paints and makes beads (mostly makes beads... poor thing caught the bead bug...) on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and I have Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday in the studio. I can't get as many beads made as I used to, but maybe that's not a bad thing. Maybe I can make just enough. I'll find out as I go, like with everything else. I know I sound awefully tentative lately, and that's because everything in my life feels tentative. Nothing is solid. Nothing is mine. It's OK. It' what I signed up for.

Anyway, we had a most wonderful weekend here in Ashland. Actually a wonderful week. Rick and I went driving on Thursday, through the backroads and hills, up about as far as Grants Pass. This is nice country, but Ashland remains at the top of the list for places to settle in. Friday night we wandered out with Mitzi and Ron for First Friday, and took in some galleries, which is always fun. There's a lot of good art here, and too many galleries to hit them all in one evening. Mitzi knows just about everybody in Art Land, so it's fun to get out there and meet some folks.

After Art Walking, we went to the Elks Lodge for a tasty beverage and a few games of pool. I don't know what it is, but I really like that place. More nice people, cheap drinks, and the only 25 cent pool table in town... maybe in the world. I tested out my new little Olympus camera, which I bought on ebay through a second hand tip from Kate McKinnon. I love it. The bells and whistles are actually useful, as well as easy to use. Get yours here...

Rick waited until I finished two beers to tell me he had something to tell me. Uh Oh... He pointed down to his leg, where I saw a lot of blood on his pants. He told me a dog had bitten him while I was in one of the galleries. What???!!! Yeah... it was a little old blind dog, and Rick had startled it out on the sidewalk. The poor thing laid into him good. Rick waited for the owner, and was assured that the dog had all his shots. Rick's jeans kept the teeth from making actual punctures, so the wounds are pretty much on the surface. The worst of it is now he'll probably be afraid of dogs to a certain degree. That's what pisses him off the most.

I worked all day Saturday, and then we all had dinner at Serena's place. Homemade ravioli. Mmmmmm. We all helped and danced around the kitchen. Tons of fun, and great food too.

Sunday seems to be a real day off. I like it that way. No "shoulds" hanging over my head. We took Lucy and Heidi to the dog park. It was their first dog park experience, so we were cautious, especially with Lucy, who can be sort of aggressive. First we had her in the isolation yard, where she stayed calm and didn't lunge at the dogs on the other side of the fence. So we put her on a leash and took her in with the rest of the pack. Heidi was a little timid, but enjoyed making some friends and romping around with the big dogs. We kept Lucy on her leash most of the time because there were kids there and we didn't want to take any chances. But we're encouraged. She played well with the other dogs, and stayed calm around the kids. There's hope for our girl, and we found that dog park people are really friendly. Maybe as the dogs make new friends, we will too. As for Rick, he didn't seem to have any trouble being surrounded by all those teeth. I'm pretty proud of him for jumping right in there like that, before the teeth marks in his leg had even healed.

A perfect Sunday afternoon for us now includes a walk in Lithia Park, followed up with a beer and a snack at the Black Sheep. Nice. So nice.

Back to work on another busy Monday, but I'm rested and ready to go. I'm still saying, although still tentatively, that I like it here. This place has real possibilities for me, for us. We'll know... when we know.

Friday, November 6, 2009

my new phone

I got a new phone yesterday. I've stubbornly held onto my old Samsung for over five years, vowing to keep it until it stopped working, and that's pretty much how it went down. The poor old thing lost its grip on the "5" key, and then started shutting itself off for no apparent reason. I suppose it was tired.

The new phone, also a Samsung, is the snazzy "Rogue" with a touchscreen and all the other expected bells and whistles. It even has a "roll the dice" setting that might be good for a little gambling amusement while I wait in line at the grocery store. I've spent several hours so far just exploring how this phone works, and I'm surprised at how intuitive it actually is. I had to load all my contacts by hand, because the old phone was too old to manage it electronically. I didn't really mind. It's fun playing with new toys. And soon enough, this fun new gizmo will be just another sensible necessity.

My next challenge is to embrace texting. I've resisted it for a long time, blaming my funky phone, but now there's no excuse. I even have a "qwerty" keyboard, which I navigate like a clumsy novice at the moment, but expect to rule before long. Gotta keep up, or be left behind. And typing on a phone doesn't make me feel so self-conscious about my three-finger typing skills. With a phone you're supposed to be "all thumbs". This makes complete sense to me.

I just need to figure out how to get a picture from my phone to my blog... maybe next week... Meanwhile, if you have my phone number, send me a text. I promise to at least attempt to answer you.

Monday, November 2, 2009

wrong number

I've had the same cell phone number for over eight years, ever since we moved to Taos, and even though we aren't there right now, I keep the number because, well, it's mine. I don't generally get a lot of calls on it. Usually just Lauren and Rick, and now that we're away from a house and a landline, the occasional call from my dad and sisters. That's OK with me. I really don't like to talk on the phone much, and I guard my number like I'm some kind of celebrity or something. If I give it to you, you better not to share it. It's private. It's mine. It's only for people I really like. At least it was until recently.

For several weeks now I've been getting an unusual surge of wrong-number calls. I can't figure it out. Most are from New Mexico, probably Taos, and a few are from Colorado, probably Denver. They're not from the same callers over and over again either. At first I thought maybe some joker had written my number on the bathroom wall at the Alley Cantina - "for a good time, call..." - because a lot of the calls come in around two in the morning, when bars are closing and the night air is cold in the high desert. I turn my ringer off at night now, and am often amused to find two or three missed calls in the morning. There are lots of lonely guys in Taos.

But the bathroom wall theory doesn't hold up well because sometimes I'll get a call in the early morning, and some woman will leave a message asking if whoever she thinks she's calling can give her a ride to work that day. You'd think when they get my voicemail greeting, saying, "Hi, this is Kim", they'd figure it out, but no... it takes two or three times for them to give up and stop calling me. There's no taxi service in Taos, and it's hard to find a reliable ride.

Just this morning, my phone rang around nine o'clock, a Denver number, and I answered it. The woman on the other end asked for Amy, and then repeated my number to me. She got what she had dialed, but there's sure no one named Amy here. She sounded puzzled too, and I found myself apologizing for not being Amy.

I cannot figure any of this this out, but now, rather than being annoyed, I'm intrigued. Maybe there's a reason for all these strangers to be calling me. Maybe they need me. Maybe I'm supposed to talk to them... I think I'll change my voicemail greeting to say something like, "Hi, this is Kim, and although I might not be the person you meant to call, maybe, on some cosmic level, you were meant to call me. Please leave a message, and I'll call you back if it seems important." Something like that. Whatever I do, I don't want to change my phone number. This is just starting to get interesting.