Monday, November 24, 2008

Newest beads and more fun

Here are the latest beads I made late last week. I love using purple, I just plain love purple. I guess that's where the name "Purple Grandma" came from. :D I used not only a purple glass, but also a purple frit mix to create them. If only I had made a few more I would have enough for a simple bracelet. I am definitely going to have to try that again. I love the way the color came out.

Friday night I went with my cousin Nick to dinner, seafood buffet, at the local casino (Chinook Winds) and to see "Three Dog Night." It was a fun night, and really brought back some musical memories for both of us. Even though he is 10 years older than I am, he remembers most of the stuff I listened to growing up since he has a brother just a year younger than I am. I think I got home around 10:30 pm, and then had to repack Tess's surgical site, and eventually went to bed. I was a little wound up and hoarse from the concert.

Saturday was pretty mellow. I relaxed in the morning (thank heaven) and Athena and I cleaned out my car. Sounds simple, right. Well NOT. It hadn't been cleaned out since last spring. AND it was the only car Tess and I shared for several months last year when her existing car had died and she had none or the Jeep she replaced her car with was in the shop. To understand exactly what that means, imagine a car where everything that needed to go to her house just kept piling up, and the layer of junk accumulated along with it. Add into that mix my friend thinking I had said I needed to take stuff to recycle, rather than her understanding I had asked her to put it in the recycle bin outside, and putting it into my back seat. It took Athena and I about an hour and a half, and filled not only my garbage can, but the recycle bin, which is even bigger, over half full. Then Tess, Athena and I went to do our Thanksgiving shopping. Whew!!! We will eat well, that is for sure.

Saturday night my friend Dan had emailed and asked if I would like to go with him and a couple of other folks for dinner and to the theatre in Newport to see a local production of "Oliver." I told him of course I would. He sprung for not only the theatre tickets, but the dinner as well. We ate at a fabulous oceanfront restaurant called, "Georgie's" and there ended up only being three of us. Dan had Ahi Tuna, served sushi-style (barely seared on each side), I had blackened scallops (YUM!!!), and Jeannie had a salad and steamer clams. Dan made us each try the Ahi Tuna, and amazingly enough it was delicious. I just had to pretend it was cooked and eat it anyway. I have never eaten, nor wanted to eat raw fish, but I was surprised to find it was very tasty. I would probably never order it myself unless I asked for it to be well done, but I am really glad I tried it.

Oliver was fun to see, and I was still humming the music the next day. Dan is a director in community theater and is always interesting to go to the theatre with. He has very strong opinions on direction, and acting, and well, every facet of every production he sees. Much as I adore him I go to the theater to escape, have fun, and just be a patron. He critiques everything. Not always easy to take for long periods of time, funny though if you can keep your sense of humor. One of the actors asked if he had enjoyed the show. He said, "I enjoyed the music." His idea of the only compliment he could give. He hates the director, disliked the way she directed, disliked the casting, disliked the way the people who were acting acted, and also disliked that way too many set pieces were used. Mainly he said there were just so many opportunities for things to have been better that were missed he was just very disappointed. He knew in advance it would be that way, though so he wasn't surprised. I think the rest of the audience had an enjoyable time. I know I really enjoyed it, and actually like several of the actors and the casting. He said Joann (his late wife and my best friend) would have given him 10 minutes to rant and said that's it. Made me giggle. I also giggled when he was talking to our friend who is a drummer in the orchestra. The drummer asked for his "notes." And Dan told him he didn't really want them all, but then proceeded to give them anyway. Very funny evening. Now you know why I was tired the past couple of days and didn't get anymore beads made, or even light my torch.

Sunday I relaxed as much as possible early on, caught up on some TV I had recorded, and got organized for Cassie to come to my house for the day. Then I drove Tess to work at noon, and took Cassie with me to "Granny's Attic," the antique mall I work at. She is so cute. She sat on the front counter while I talked to my bosses about things needing done, and she was a bit shy to begin with. I asked her if she would like to sit on the floor and she was happy to. Lori gave her some fruit flavored licorice, and she was interested in things in the various cases nearby. I asked her if she would like to crawl around, and she said, "I can go for a walk?" I told her sure, she could go wherever she wanted to. She said, "Come on Grandma, you follow me, I'm walking around." So I followed as she scooted along the back aisle, she looked down the center aisle and I told her she could go clear to the back door if she wanted. She got side-tracked in the "book nook" and was absolutely fascinated by the cook books. She is such a foodie. Dale asked her what she was cooking, she thought about it for a minute and said, "Fish." She doesn't even like fish. Too funny!!! She eventually let me read her a children's book, and then crawled toward the back area. Lori asked her what we were going to do when we went home. She said she no go home, she go Grandma. Lori asked what she was going to do at Grandma's, and Cassie said, take a baff, eat nunch, and cut bangs. Lori said she had cut her own bangs, and Cassie asked her to cut hers, too. So off they went to get the scissors and cut Cassie's bangs. They look great. Lori even thinned them a bit to fluff them up. She was a happy girl. Lori took her to pick out a teddy bear, and Dale let her choose what she wanted from our kids toy basket. She came home with crayons and a teddy bear, and was very happy. We played a lot while we were at my house. She didn't like "I Love Lucy" because it was in black and white, but was very good (as usual). At four we went back to pick up mommy from work, and went to the grocery store to buy dinner for a couple of nights. We both got frozen pizza for last night since it was on sale and it was what Cassie wanted. Tess is making her famous taco au gratin potatoes for both families tonight. So, BONUS, I don't have to cook!!!

Dad was so tired he ate pizza and wanted to go to bed at 6 pm. I did dishes and cleaned up a bit, then I fell asleep trying to watch some more recorded TV last night. Woke up to change Tess's dressing at 8 pm, finished watching the show I had slept through, and then started another show only to sleep through it, too. I finally gave up and went to bed at 12:30 pm when I woke up the last time. Guess those nights out really took their toll. It probably didn't help that I had hurt my back helping to lift dad after he fell on Friday. Tess and Eric each got under an arm but still weren't able to pick him up. He is fine, just a bit sore and always a bit pokey after he does this sort of thing. I am sure in a day or two he will be completely back to normal.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blog Pictures | Just discovered a new location for photos to use on your blog. Check it out, . Royalty-free photos of all sort for your blog. Cool, huh!!! Thanks Nancy!!! I forgot to mention the above photo is Portland, Oregon at night. For a big city (well, big in Oregon terms) it is beautiful and a wonderful place to visit.

Yikes, I am so behind . . . no that would be Tess

All the time spent removing gauze and repacking it into her poor hiney has me thinking of butts a lot lately. She is so pained, and yet, healing. The doctor says she may still have a hole come St. Patrick's Day. We are hoping it will close, fill, whatever much sooner than that. He says the earliest he has had anyone healed was in 12 weeks. Which would make it a whole lot nicer. Not holding our collective breath, but hoping all the same.

I haven't been on the torch enough this week, but have been having a bit of shoulder and neck pain so have been trying to take it easy. I think holding my hands in the air unsupported causes a bit of strain in the shoulders. I think my neck is from the high in the air monitor at work. I will have to stay off the computer and see if that helps. Not mine here at home, but the one at the antique mall. Oh well, need to work on jewelry making anyway. Have a lot to accomplish before the weekend following Thanksgiving. Big open house and my jewelry will be featured.

I ordered some glass and something called Japanese Annealing Bubbles last night. The bubbles are supposed to help my glass cool slower so I will lose less beads to cracking. Yea!! Can't wait for them to arrive. I also bought a BBQ tank of propane, which means essentially I will be able to torch for longer periods without the danged thing icing up like the little "cans" of MAPP gas do. The downside is I will have to take the tank in and out of the house for torching, going to need to figure out an easy way to transport it, like a little set of wheels or something with a handle. Don't want to hurt my back carrying it, also trying to figure out how to avoid transporting bugs in and out of the house along with it. Ought to be interesting. I also need some sort of mount for my torch now that I won't be clamping the MAPP can to the table with the torch attached. Have a couple of ideas, but will work more on that this weekend.

My latest beads featured a couple of experimental things that really didn't work out too well. The off mandrel stuff really needs to be done using a kiln. The rest of it worked out okay. I added a second photo a bit closer up of the best beads. You can click on the photos and get a bit closer view.

Part of why this post took me so long to get around to involved what I was doing last weekend. I went to the Oregon State Elks Soccer Shoot.

I got up in the middle of the night (6 am) and dragged along my oldest grandaughter, Athena, to watch my middle (hee-hee just typed that word with a “d” as the first letter) granddaughter, Wednesday, compete and win the state championship in her age division.

She scored higher than the boys in her age division and the one above hers, but could only compete against the girls in her division. She has a brand new soccer ball, a fancy T-shirt, and a first place plaque for her trophy wall. She is amazingly athletic!!! What a fun and exhausting time we had. Here is photo evidence.

Hoping to be back sooner next time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 7 beads and Tess's poor hiney operation

Life in the world of glass melting is fascinating, scary, wonderful and exciting. Pretty much all at the same time somedays. My daughter's favorite colors are greens in between the olive and avocado shades, she was thrilled because I hit it. (her words) She loves all the orange and peachy shades, too. Also loves red. She wanted something to go with some of the clothes she has, but never found anything in the right color. The beads created last night were done specially for her.

I made one enormous kind of rectangular bead with neon green from ASK, and it was a giant fat rod which kept trying to crack on me. However once I kept it from shocking it melted right down and was pretty easy to shape. I flattened the sides then thought it would be fun to encase it in some clear green in the same shade. So of course I had to round it back up some and then square it off again. I added some of the flame kissed orange frit I had and voila you get the bead on the left. For the rest of the night I worked on some basic things I had been doing. A leaf green heart with the same frit, a couple of leaf green spacers, one with frit, one plain. Then I threw in a clear heart with frit, and then two clear drops. Playing with the clear glass is fun since it is so hard to tell if I have it hot enough or not. Until it starts to droop I really can't see the red hotness of it.

Enough jabber, here are the beads.

Tess is recovering from her surgery of last Tuesday. She had a pilonidal cyst removed from the tailbone area. She has had recurrent infection in this area for over 9 years now. The surgeon would have hospitalized her the day before surgery but there were no rooms available in our tiny little hospital. Fortunately he does 6-8 of these surgeries a year and felt it would be fine for her to be admitted just prior to the surgery. She was in agony for several weeks before surgery and will be in pain for some time to come. Hopefully the worst pain will be over within the next week or two. He told her she will still have a hole on Christmas, and possibly as long as until St. Patrick's Day. It will all depend on how quickly she heals.

During surgery she was of course unconscious and hospitalized for nearly 40 hours. She was only released then since I would do her packing and dressing changes. I have some medical experience since I have had some horrendous wounds myself. I have cared for others in nursing homes, and taken care of post-surgical patients, too. I care for dad and his urostomy needs, too. So the doc figured it would be just another day for me. NOT!!! I was not really prepared for how enormous the wound woud be. Imagine a golf ball sized chunk being removed with an opening about the size of a quarter showing, elongated somewhat, but about the mass of a quarter. I have to look inside the wound, and then fill it with roughly half a 4x4 square of damp gauze. Sounds fairly straight forward doesn't it. Not so much when you are hearing your daughter cry as you remove the old one, sterilize your hands, dampen the new one, and then pack it into the wound.

I have to "pack" her wound every morning and every night. It is a very painful thing for her to endure, but at least it should end the problem once and for all. There is still a bit of infection, but he said considering how infected it was when she came in it is no wonder. He says the wound is granulating just fine which means it is healing. He doesn't want her on an antibiotic since that could cause a resistant infection. Better left alone so long as it continues as it is. Who knew being the mom to a 29 year old would mean nursing duties??

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 6 in my beady life

Well, I thought I would try something completely different last night. Stick to one color, and try encasing a little more. I am getting a bit better at the stringer control, not the encasing so much as just figuring out how much heat it takes to melt.

Here are the beads from last night. I was planning on trying to get on the torch during the day and see if the daylight made a difference in what I made. Coming down with a cold blew that all to hell. Oh well, at least I did fire up the torch once I got dad off to bed.

I started out by making a giant cobalt blue tab, encasing that, melting it in, then squishing it, and turning it pretty rectangular. I felt like I was creating some sort of ice sculpture. The blue kept flashing through the clear as I rotated it. How fun that was to see. Then I made two little spacer beads cobalt base with clear coating . . . on the same mandrel. Maybe not such a smart move for someone who is just starting out, but it seemed to be okay. Of course when they had cooled I discovered there is a crack in one of them. The last thing i tried was a big disk with white dots around the edge. Of course by the time I got the white stringer out the bead had cooled so much it shocked and a chunk popped off when I flashed it into the flame to start reheating it. Naturally I tried to move it away from the edge of the table and burned my finger. Not badly, but it hurt for about a half hour even in ice water. No pain now, I think I killed the nerve or something. Oh well. The beads are pretty cool. The bad bead ended up off mandrel and interesting, of course it also ended up broken!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

More beads

Well, last night was my fifth day of melting glass and making beads. I sure am loving this!!! What a fun thing to do with my evenings. I am going to try making some during daylight hours and see if it makes a difference in how things look.

Well, after I finally got all the errands of the day out of the way and got dad off to bed I fired up the new tank of MAPP and made another 8 beads. That seems to be about the limit of me holding my hands up in the air. Only one cracked, and I knew when I made it that was likely. As I was winding on the glass it called out to me, “Make a shell, make a shell.” So I did, but I knew the lip would be thin and probably crack. It did, but oh well, I will superglue it and keep it anyway. It was really fun, even if it didn't end up looking exactly like a shell. I will give it another try probably need to at least get a crockpot or start socking away the bucks for a kiln.

If you want to help me get there faster I will gladly send you my Paypal address and you can contribute to the "Buy Rita a kiln fund." I will not only be eternally grateful, I will send you a heart in your choice of color.

Scroll down to see the beads from days three and four.

Nothing spectacular, but need to document what I am doing so I can look at the improvements over time. I really like the burnt blue bead from night 3, even if it is burnt. Night four I ran out of gas and the torch was too hot to change the tank.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I've been tagged

My dear friend Barrie Edwards tagged me. The purpose of the tagging being to tell you, my precious readers (you are out there aren't you?) seven things you don't know about me. Barrie always seems to come up with fascinating things to say, I will see if I can rise to the challenge.

1. Once upon a time I was employed by a logging company as a landing chaser. I unhooked the chokers (cables that drag the logs up or down the hill) on the landing where the loader operator loaded them on the trucks. Of course all of this took place after I used my hatchet to remove small branches, and larger ones I removed with the chainsaw I toted around all day. Yikes, I was a burly girl. I was also 21 at the time.

2. I was the prep-cook/back-up cook at the world famous Pixie Kitchen during my late teens. I made the salad dressings, angel food cakes, thousands of squares of garlic bread, breaded fish, shrimp, etc., and cut up hundreds of chickens every week. All for a whopping $1.40 an hour. Jeez, I worked for peanuts. Of course it was 1969-70 at the time.

3. My first job was at a 19-cent hamburger stand, which also had bumper cars and go-carts. I eventually moved up to the go-cart track and sold tickets. I was all of 15 at the time.

4. I didn't finish high school, but got my GED before my class graduated. I finished what the tester said would take us two days in a little over two hours with the highest scores she had ever seen. No wonder it didn't really affect me to have no real diploma . . . when you are brilliant it just shines through.

5. I absolutely hate parsnips and rutabagas. I discovered accidentally that I like turnips. I figured if I hated the other two I would hate them too, but surprise I like them pretty well.

6. I grew up with a mom whose mother boiled everything to death, so had eaten very few "odd" things until I grew up. Among those things was anything ethnic (except Irish) except for the odd Chinese food dinner. My mom always insisted on American. I remember one birthday my folks told me I could choose any restaurant I wanted and I chose a Japanese place in downtown Portland. Much to my surprise the Japanese food was only served upstairs and the American downstairs. My dad told my mom if she wasn't adventurous enough to share our Japanese she could eat downstairs alone. She did, and i don't think she spoke to him for several hours afterward. He said it was my birthday and if I wanted Japanese he was going to see that I got it.

7. I was absolutely obsessed with the Beatles as a young girl, and a friend and I could sing all their music in harmony. I still love their music and think it some of the best stuff ever written.

I am going to put out this challenge to a few of you. Tell us what you think we don't know, or you think we need to know about you.


I will be adding two more as time allows.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween costumes and My first beads!!!

My sweet little family, Tess, Eric, Athena and Cassie ready for their big night out. The handsome prince Eric is holding the adorable faerie princess Cassie, Athena is the Spider Princess, and Tess is the Queen of the Spiders. I made Athena and Tess's garb, and Eric did their makeup!!! Wow, he is amazing. He says he had plenty of experience doing Mardi Gras makeup in New Orleans. (CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR BIGGER PICTURE)

My friends on Wet Canvas had been encouraging me to attempt making my own lampwork beads. They gave me all sorts of hints, tips, and love. They even (Maggie) sent me some tools and glass. I told Maggie I was planning to fire up the torch I bought last year by the end of October. What with the making of Halloween costumes I wasn't sure I would be able to hit my self-imposed deadline. But, at 10:30 pm on Oct. 31, I put the fire to my hothead torch and began melting glass. I spent nearly two hours on the torch, and repeated the process last night. I love the heart beads, especially the ones from last night. The swirly bead in yellow transparent over a white base with the red frit is probably my favorite. It was really fun to make. Back sooner with more beads. The bottom photo is of the beads from my first night's glass melting. The second night I actually managed to make a round bead.