Sunday, December 22, 2013

It is almost Christmas. Rain is coming down in a steady pour and the back porch rainspout is making its usual racket of drop, drop, DRIP, drop. The tree is up and lit, the evergreen scent fills the living room air. Christmas icicle lights strung across the front porch roof shine into the room and I can see the bright colored lights that sweep the garage roof from where I sit in this leather chair. It is nearly time to call it a day. The house sits quietly in anticipation of Christmas morning and the afternoon dinner that follows. We are older now. Our children scattered to the different corners of the country. One child remains at home, much to his chagrin he is not yet the adult he has wanted to be since he was born. We are but a stop in his busy day, a place to eat and sleep.

Christmas makes me sad and wistful, happy and content all at once. I am blessed to have this life I lead, the family I have and the work I love. My days are full with creativity, my needs are met, I am surrounded by people I enjoy. Still the sadness creeps in. I miss my family, the family that was while I grew up. My Aunt Lou, my grandparents, parents and siblings. I remember the excitement of waiting for presents and company to arrive. The Christmas tree, always brightly lit and fully decorated in the corner of the living room; created a hiding spot where one child in a big family could hide and enjoy the quiet of being lost in holiday ornaments and lights. All those people that I so long ago loved - gone. Memories linger and if I sit long enough and quietly enough, closing my eyes tightly; I can see them again. Summoning the feelings of those long ago childhood memories, places and people.

Happy Christmas to all and sweet blessings, too.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Recently the shop received in some market quilt squares in little sets of precut fabric that featured fruits and veggies. I loved the colors and every time I walked by the display, I thought I am going to stitch those together for shop samples. Mind you, other than some free form wool felt work and a banner or two, I have not sewn in almost 20 years. I don't really know how to sew, much to my Aunt Gertie's chagrin as she tried, really tried, to teach me and so did my high school. That was way back when home economics was taught to all girls in school, preparing us for our future just as feminism and the ERA was beginning to make some impact.

Anyhow, as I sewed these pieces together in my sunny classroom a few months back; I remembered my grandfather telling me how his mother sewed patchwork quilts at night before she went to bed. He said she would cut the squares from whatever fabric was around, old clothing, flour sacks or curtains and would stack the squares in her sewing basket. She would then begin to sew and he described how she would first sew two by two squares, then four by four squares and kept combining them until she had a quilt top. All sewn by hand. All stitched as part of caring for her family, using everything in the thrift she practiced her whole life.

As I sewed that Sunday afternoon, I thought of my grandfather telling me this and pictured his mother doing this handwork into the quiet evenings. I felt the generations of my family surround me, observe me, sit with me as I worked on this craft with the use of a sewing machine. Timelessness flowed through my mind and hands. Love for my grandfather and this story that all these many years later, still resonates within and about me.

p.s. Please note in the funniest way possible, that the veggie squares have in them french fries and tortilla chips!!! Very healthy fresh veggies, don't you think? I am laughing here!

Monday, October 14, 2013

My breath catches in my chest. I am paralyzed with a sadness that I did not know was coming. My brother, the man I only met briefly at our father's funeral in 1983 and not again until 1995, has passed away. Suddenly. Unexpectedly after a brief, vicious bout with lung cancer. Damn lung cancer. Damn all cancers.

He didn't tell me, my sister in law said, because he did not want to spoil my trip to Paris. He was thinking of me. This was his way, silent, stoic; much like our father.  It was a loving and kind thing for him to do and that makes me cry even more. I am a bundle of nerves and emotion. smiling because of this act of love, crying because I will miss him. I liked having a brother who looked like me. Who had memories beyond mine and different than mine. He knew my mother before she was married to our dad. He had different stories to tell of both my mom and dad. He had a life's story far removed from mine as he grew up far away in remote Alaska and I in the countryside of Pennsylvania. He dreamed of retiring there back where our whole family began. He was going to make a trip to Pennsylvania and reacquaint himself with the memories and place of his very young youth.

It is different to get to know your brother as an adult. Your backgrounds are complete, you are joined by genetics only. A friend insisted that I reach out to him, decades ago when on a trip to Alaska. I was hesitant, not sure if he would want to meet me. He was the last surviving half sibling I had. We met in a restaurant. Had dinner and found we were so much alike. We told stories. We talked about our father. I kept wanting to reach out and hold his hand, he being so much like the dad I both loved and feared.

We met every so often over the next bunch of years. I took Phil and Jacob to Alaska to meet him. I delighted when Jacob liked him and nearly passed out with delight when Phil said we looked alike, acted alike and even spoke words the same way. Our mannerisms betrayed us as siblings even when our lives didn't let us live as siblings. I had a fuller heart. I had family. Someone I could begin to build a past and a future with.

I am blessed to have had these times and memories with him. To have met one another and known each other. To be happy that all along he had followed me through my blog and achievements, that however briefly we were brother and sister.

Still I am sorrowful in my loss. Now, I must figure out what to do with his absence and maybe I will have to make that Pennsylvania trip to see for him what he has missed. Maybe this is the push I need to mend fences with other siblings however painful that journey may be. I have already spoken with my other brother, the brother of my youth and felt comfort in his voice. Maybe in this ending there is a beginning.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


One of the things I looked forward to doing on my trip to Paris, was visiting the catacombs. The bones of six million people are arranged there, 22 meters below the earth. I was not however, prepared for the nearly anxiety inducing experience of 130 small circular stairs descending into nearly total darkness and I was equally unprepared for the ascending 83 narrow, wet with slippery clay, steep circular stairs that brought me into welcomed daylight.

I had hoped to feel some of the energy, the stories from seeing so many earthly remains in one place. Unfortunately, with the crowds, camera flashes and noise, I was unable to have a quiet, centering moment to feel anything. It was however, a worthy experience and a place that I am happy to have seen.

Oh, and climbing those stairs down and up? Priceless victory for exercise challenged me!
The entrance.

It was actually this dark in most places in the tunnels.

Small villages were carved into tunnel recesses. 

Coming up into some light before the dreaded spiral staircase.

Piled and carefully arranged to the ceilings.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Last month was crazy busy as I prepared all my shops and gallery for my trip to Paris. So much to do that it was like having four children demanding my attention at all times. Plus I could not neglect my family or this or that or anything else. Anyhow, I made it to Paris for eleven days of sightseeing, fabulous food, good conversation, relaxing knitting time, late afternoon studio drawing and general all around down time. My first real vacation since my honeymoon 19 years ago.

C'est moi, in hot & humid Paris.
I found many things about Paris that I loved and many things that caused me to pause and think about the bigger picture in life. I am still amazed at how interconnected we all are with the internet yet how different and unique we each truly are. This uniqueness is reflected in our locations. I knew I was not at home anymore during these eleven days but I also felt so interwoven with the local people and lifestyle.

I feel refreshed, despite having a nasty cold and ready to face new challenges in my businesses. I am inspired by the shops I have seen, the paintings I viewed, the scenery that seduced me. Here then, are the first few Parisian pictures and thoughts.

Sweet details on a Paris shop door.

Pretty little display windows.

A story was told in this window.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Here comes the light from behind the trees.

Her comes Daisy....

...down the dog trail from her house to ours....

hey , mom...

ready to spend the day with us. A shared dog.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

At night in downtown, when the shops are closed, the last of the restaurants has emptied out and the pinball bar is finishing up that final round; I like to walk through town. I move quietly and slowly in and out of the shop doorways, pausing to look into windows and up in the trees at sleeping song birds. Softly, as if my feet were padded, I walk and watch. I see what I miss in the broad daylight. Absent of people and cars, noise and light, I am serene and enchanted moving as if a ghost through the dark, deserted streets. I have peace.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Walking the beach today at Fort Flagler, I took a candid photo of myself. I am not big on taking many pictures of myself because the image on the camera is not the one I keep in my head. In the picture I downloaded this evening, I realized that except for the hair color, I look exactly like my mother. It is not want I want to see. Nothing was wrong with my mother, nothing at all. I am looking at a 56 year old woman in the picture anyway so perfection belongs not in my camera image but perhaps in Hollywood where Sharon Stone looks like a 30 year old screen goddess. I just feel myself melding into my mom, losing my identity as the more I resemble her. I know I am not her. So much is different about me, my life and my personality but I am wrestling with this issue. I admired my mother but never thought I would look like her. What a silly self centered thing to say! I can hear those words from her now.

I will not post the picture. It is hard not to just delete the dang thing. It was fun at the beach on a walk. Relaxing, centering. I am going to be doing some more soul searching on this mother issue. I wonder if my sons will think along these lines although I doubt it. I really do doubt it.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Studio Morning

A plane flies overhead. Songbirds sing and crows caw. Cool air softly floats in through the open bedroom window and morning nudges me awake. Early. Very early.

Quietly, barely breathing, holding my arm still so my bracelets do not make noise; I dress in yesterday's clothes, slip on red sandals and head to the studio.

The overhead lights begin their familiar hum and the air, still warm from the afternoon's sun, feels welcoming, drawing me in - as all the creative possibilities lay about on every table surface. Here there is jewelry to be made. A wool embroidery panel to finish. Paintings on the drawing table and easel. Tools, now silent, awaiting their turn in the creative, crafting frenzy. Everything begins to call to me.
" Make me. Finish this. Be inspired by me. Create me. "

This playground of my own creation just wants to be awake with me. Wants me to be its crafty companion. Wants to again sing with working energy. Good morning, studio!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I must sleep as a toddler sleeps these days. I am tired. I sleep. Deep and hard almost always filled with dreams of rich color and activity. Then just as suddenly as I dropped off this day to sleep, I am awake. Try as I might, sleep will not come again and my mind begins the dance of activity. As if on its' own winged flight, first here and then there, my mind lands amongst the leaves of a thousand different trees. It plays here, lingers there. Makes lists and daydreams. Begins a journey deep into the day when all things look possible in the earliest of morning light. It is 4am. Now 5. I am awake and hear the sounds a new day brings. Birds. A bee buzzes the open window. A dog woofs at the deer strolling through the yard. Out the window a young rabbit makes his fist hop from the blackberry vines ringing the side yard. Clouds hang heavy, full and brilliantly white against the bluest of skies. Everything pulses with energy as the sun bursts forth over the waters beyond Kala Point. A new day has begun and what an adventure it will be.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Three AM Awake in Milwaukee.

The morning feels safer, missing the darkening mysteries of the night. The sun softly rounds the concrete crystal corners of the city's tallest buildings; lighting every window. Every surface a caress of awakening. No hidden scariness here, no sorrow, no loss. Only light. Blue reflected from the skies, a clean start, a beginning that shouts I am new. Here I am. Awake with me.

Monday, June 10, 2013

This is a picture of Phil in the Milwaukee, WI airport this morning waiting for our flight. I took the picture quickly before he knew what I was doing and before he could move. He stood like this for a long time. Quietly. Watching out the big windows. I knew he wanted to be home. Knew he was glad to be leaving but the longing and stillness and looking forward just tugged at my heart.

The longing was there for both of us. His was just so visceral, so sweet, so near.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I have heard rumors of there being northern lights in the sky tonight. Absent light pollution, just maybe, I will see that incredible blue green band of shimmering curtains in the sky. I would so love to see them!

Things have shipped off the Bead & Button show in Milwaukee and soon, I will ship off, too. This is likely my last year at B&B. Sales are slower, there are changes in how the show is structured and I am getting older and just want to stay home. I love seeing everyone but the stress of putting it all together is getting to me. I think truthfully, my studio calls to me and I want to spend more time in there painting and making jewelry. My shop, a person all on its own, an at once demanding and loving child, also would like me to be home more often, too.

It is a thrill though to read about the show on line. To see all the people excited that they are attending the show, taking classes, meeting new friends, shopping, and listening to all the beads have to say to them. Inspiration is at every corner.

I am making this journey one more time. Once more to play at what I have always thought of as bead mecca then .... we will just have to see what the future will hold.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Yesterday was my shop's 21st birthday. For twenty one years, I have been a shop keeper. A keeper of my dreams. A keeper of my creative side. I have been blessed. I love what I do. All my life I wanted to own a store. I would play in my parent's garage with a small metal cash register and set things up to sell. I would make things. Lots of things. Often telling my mom that I wanted to make something but didn't know what. She kept me supplied with painting kits, craft supplies, yarn, sketchbooks and beads. I made things from empty laundry soap bottles. I taught myself to knit and crochet. I learned wood working with our neighbor, Al. I made a gorgeous wooden church model complete with electric lights for my grandfather one Christmas. My grandmother was the recipient of many of the things I made and never once did she have a discouraging word for me. My Aunt Ann treasured my first piece of crewel embroidery and we grieved together when it was lost in the floods of hurricane Agnes. My grandmother would sit with me and cut out pieces of fabric so I could make Barbie doll clothes and patchwork quilts. My neighbor, Rachel let me use her treadle sewing machine to stitch together quilts. Quilts that I have to this day. Every Easter became a time to decorate the house with all the eggs and trees I'd made. And Christmas? Christmas was making stuff on steroids! I thrived on it.

In high school, I was truly set free and learned to do silversmithing, pottery, painting, printmaking and more. I had told everyone since I was in the third grade and obsessed with drawing windmills, that I wanted to be an artist. I had no idea of how to become " one ". I only knew that I had to make things. I also knew that I wanted to sell those things and make a job.

College saw me frantically balancing work and boyfriends and creating the portfolio of work that would take me to the next level of schooling. I learned so many new things. I sold paintings to my dad's friends even if they were pet portraits painted on black velvet. I sold drawings to fund a weekend of fun with friends. I kept at it. Painting, drawing, crafting and soon added some teaching to my days. I was becoming what I wanted and  then ..... motherhood happened.

A time to slow things down and raise a child. Fitting in all my work became a challenge. My studio space became all of a table top. I learned and studied decorative and ethnic folk art. I took sign painting jobs. I sold work at craft shows. I knitted and crocheted and quilted and dabbled and entered competitions and sent paintings around the world.

At 36, I wanted a place to have all my work around me. A place of my own to sell the things I made. I found a space to rent with an amazing shop keeper who saw something in me that allowed me into his shop to create a working studio. I worked long days and nights. I stretched my skills to levels I did not know I possessed. I made adjustments in my life that allowed this part of my soul to grow.

I am still doing it. Now in a bigger space. I love it even more. I feel blessed on this journey. I am still the girl who just wanted to make stuff and sell stuff. I do it all the time now and I could not be happier.

So as the 22nd year begins in my shop and studios, I will find new things to make, new artistic avenues to explore, new experiences to put into my work. Watch me. Join me. Creativity is as necessary as breathing.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My head is a swirl of thoughts this morning as I still lay here in bed with my laptop, posting away, knowing I am late to begin the day.

Today would be my mom's 84th birthday if she were still with me. I think of her so much of the time and wonder if she still thinks of me wherever she spends her time now. I want to believe she is  happy, smiling, being with those that have gone before her and that she must have loved immensely. I hunger to hear her voice, and find myself saying my name as she would say to me when calling me.

" LoisAnn " All one word. In anger and impatience, in love and comfort. Always I hear her. I miss her.
My mom in her twenties.

My mother, my baba and me in the late 1970's. I miss all three of us.

Monday, April 29, 2013

I am one of those people who does not like to get up early in the morning and leap about getting the day begun. I need my slow- to- awake- mornings, lingering in bed over breakfast and a television show. I like to slowly come alive and begin thinking about what the day holds. I'll get up early and enjoy a day that has a quick, early start but it is definitely not my choice. Sundays are even lazier for me because the local paper is thrown into the mix and of course, it has to be read before I get up. Time is so sweet that I hate to rush a new day into reality. I always have a gazillion things to do but amazingly enough, all those things wait for me to get to them. Nothing starts on its own. Everything in my little Lois world waits for me. I keep wishing I had little elfin fairies around to do things for me but I don't. My life waits for me in the morning like a cat curled at my feet; she will  sleep until the creative adrenaline begins its coursing journey through my very soul.

In a turquoise mood yesterday. These will join all the new beads in the Turquoise case
in the lobby right below the lapis and around the corner from the amber.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about a zillion and three different things. The frailty and shortness of life, finding time to be creative, showing love to family, understanding my teenager. patience and care with customers, to name just a few things. It seems like spring would be a time of renewal and rebirth, a cleaning of cobwebs and soul but I find it a time of introspection, a time of turning inward before going into the light, warmth and color of spring.

Turning older, deciding again, just as I did as a teenager myself, what kind of person I want to be. We are forever and always, the Phoenix rising from the ashes and reinventing ourselves. I am artist and jeweler. Mother and wife, friend and companion. Did I achieve anything I thought I would so many decades ago when I was a teen myself? Have I grown into the woman I thought I would be?

Yes. I am strong. I am a good friend. I spend the majority of my days being creative and helping my customers find their muse. I am love and light. Aging in place with wisdom and joy, a small, infinitesimally small, blip in the grand universe of life.

Now, I need to figure out what this day holds for me.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tonight was gallery walk in Port Townsend and it was my first walk alone in the gallery without Dale as a partner. I was dreading being alone in the space between patrons but as I sat and looked around the  
gallery; I realized how much I liked seeing my work grouped together. I am still amazed that the work was something that was so of me, from me, for me. I liked hearing the comments from gallery walk participants of how much they enjoyed seeing my paintings all together. The space feels inviting, filled with color and warmth. It is truly a luxury and indulgence for me to be able to rent the space for my own pleasure and artwork. It stretches the budget ferociously but I have to do it to feel like myself. To fulfill a passion that I have had since I was a child and wanted to be an artist.