Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Confession Is Good for the Soul (Supposedly)

Admitting the problem. 
It’s said that’s the first step to resolution.
So here I am.
Admitting it.

Yes, I have a problem.
And I know what you think.  You think this is about my bead addiction.  But you’d be wrong.  Oh, there’s no denying I have that as well, but the problem I’m about to admit to is much more significant, of longer duration, and more likely to have a lasting impact on my overall health.
It all started innocently enough back in college.  In fact, innocence may have been part of the problem.  I grew up in a family where there was no alcohol or smoking…heck, no one even drank coffee.  I made it all the way through high school without partying or experiencing alcohol so what did I know about chemical substances or the abuse thereof?  I didn’t even have my first taste of a beer until I was a freshman in college riding on a “beer bus” to the Rose Bowl for a football game.  I still remember thinking “this is what rat piss tastes like.”
I think that first taste was what allowed me to avoid any kind of a drinking problem during college.  Oh, I was in a sorority and did my fair share of partying, but I was a serious lightweight compared to almost everyone around me and I pretty much gave up alcohol entirely after college.  And, even though it was L.A. in the 80’s, I managed to avoid any entanglements with certain other substances that were prevalent on campus during that timeframe – you can only imagine all the insanity that was going on back then.
No, my actual problem was so much subtler than alcohol or illegal drugs.
I still remember the sorority sister who sent me down to the basement to get my first taste of what would become a life-long (so far) addiction.  At first it was just a little bit here and there when I was thirsty for it.  Then, it was at mealtimes and sometimes even took the place of a meal (all the better to fit into that cocktail dress for the next party, right?)  Eventually, I had to have it all day long.
Oh, I made all the usual excuses.  It helped me stay awake and alert so I could study.  It cured headaches and hangovers so really, it was “medicinal” when you think about it.  It helped with weight loss – and considering that the girl in the bunk to my right was the reigning Miss USA (literally) and the girl in the bunk on the left was the reigning Miss Los Angeles (literally), the competition to look good was FIERCE!  Besides, everyone else was doing it, too, so how bad could it really be?
Now, here I am almost 30 years later and I find myself having to not only admit that I have a problem, but also facing the real possibility that I FINALLY HAVE TO STOP if I want to preserve my health.  Heart palpitations, weight gain, potential issues with blood pressure and blood sugar levels are all things I don’t want to be dealing with…especially with the big 5-0 birthday looming on the horizon in a couple of years.
So, here I go.
Yes, it’s true, I am addicted…


…to Diet Coke.

Help me.  I can't stop...


Friday, January 25, 2013

New Year's Bead Porn

It wouldn't be a new year with a new start to the blog without a least a soupcon of bead porn and here's the first installment. I plan to sprinkle a bit more off and on throughout the year as budget and time allow. I'm still hoping to get actual finished jewelry pics taken this weekend, but the weather is looking kinda sketchy so far...we'll see what happens. In the meantime...BEAD PORN!
You know you missed it ;-)

I was thinking spring when I picked out this cute, yellow patinated brass hummingbird and flower pendant from Patina Worx.

Verdigris-patinated flower and leaf links from the same shop.

I also got a pair of these lovely gold/blue patinated bird charms from Patina Worx.  I thought the colors were so pretty on these.

These large, textured and patinated metal teardrops are from Miss Fickle Media.  I had originally envisioned them as earrings with multiple strands of tiny chain and a few small beads hanging in front of them, but when they arrived, they are so heavy that I think they will work better as pendants in individual designs.

Textured and patinated copper rings...

...and an amazing floral embossed bracelet link are both from Kristi Bowman.

Turquoise floral clay links...

...and dark blue floral links both from Karen Totten at Starry Road Studio.

I've already used these hearts in a design which I posted about here and have listed on Etsy for sale.  Hearts perfect for Valentine's Day...

...or a wintry design are both from Slate Studio Supply.

She also was the source for this pretty blue and green flower pendant...

...and this heart-warming sunburst pendant.

Rebekkah Payne from TreeWings Studio makes these darling polymer clay bunnies and other animals.

Which reminds me that I saw the first bunny rabbit of the season last night at dusk.  They are usually all hibernating now, but they sometimes come out right before rain is expected to get a little grass-munching done and then go back into their burrows before it gets wet.

More exquisitely detailed polymer clay - this time a golden seashell-themed charm from Gwydion's Garden.

Spring green poly clay hearts with matching beads...

...a wonderful Pari-inspired heart pendant...

...and a plaid butterfly with matching beads are all made from polymer clay and come from Menagerie Studio.

I keep telling myself that I have enough lampwork for me and about 500 other beaders and I don't really need any more...and I keep sooooo not listening to myself.  This vibrant pair of daisies on black with turquoise scrollwork is from I Make Beads.

Sky, sand and ocean lampwork pair...

...and this bright floral set are also from I Make Beads.

Half-n-half hollow lampwork beads are from Alisha White.  She says the colors in these beads are "Atlantis Blue" and "Poison Apple Green."  LOVE those names!

This gorgeous set is from Radiant Mind.  The photo doesn't do it justice because the colors in it are amazing in real life.

That's it for the year's first installment of bead porn.  Keep watching this space for more installments in the future.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Playing Catch Up

Thanks for sticking with me through my little trip down memory lane vis a vis last summer's vacation.  I promise that not all my posts will be quite so mind-numbingly boring, but I needed something to get the blog going again while I continue to play catch up in the background and get things back on track.

Item 1 on that list (well, not really #1 but it is on the list and had a quick turnaround time) was getting my Etsy shops updated.  I created a whole bunch of new resin last year, but never did get about half of it uploaded to the shop.  Made a start on that last night with a number of new Paris and Eiffel Tower-related designs so if you're into that sort of thing, be sure to check out my Be Resinable shop.  More updates to come later today and this week as time allows.

There are actually still some pieces from last year that have been left all lonesome and forlorn on my work station waiting for a second resin pour to finish them off.  I had hoped to get to them this weekend since we were having a warm spell (80+ degrees!) which is much better for doing resin than colder temps, but it seems I was overly optimistic about my work schedule returning to normal just yet. 

Plus, it was Ryan's birthday party (he turned 10 on Jan. 14th) and the NFL playoffs and car repairs and a doctor's appointment and by the time all THAT was done, I had a choice of what to do with my remaining free time 1.  movie & pedicure or 2.  resin.  I went with #1 and saw "Argo" and then got the pedicure.  With 80 degree weather here all week I had to bust out the sandals and flip flops so the feet needed to get a little TLC.

"Argo" was awesome and I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it yet.  I'm still not sure why it got an "R" rating as it wasn't nearly as violent as I had expected.  A lot of the "F " word in it, though, so maybe that's why.

More shop updates to come and maybe bead porn by Friday if I get my act together :-)

Happy Tuesday!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lake Tahoe - The Ride Home

Well, after all the sun and fun, boating, parasailing, jet skiing, fishing and encounters with crazy, drunken toothless old women, it was time to hit the road for the long trip home...
After one last dip in the lake, of course!

Even though we were in California while we were at the lake, we had to actually head into Nevada for a bit before crossing back to Cali on the way home.  Not much to look at during that part of the trip, but we did stop at the scenic overlook for Topaz Lake to take a picture.

The kid thought this guardrail with all of the bumper stickers plastered on it was more interesting than the boring old lake view and insisted that I capture it (and him) in a here you go.

Next stop was the Mammoth Lakes trout farm.  No fishing and no crazy, drunk people, either.

But a whole heck of a lot of trout - mostly rainbow and brown trout.

They have food machines where you can get a handful of trout food for a quarter and feed the fish so we spent quite a lot of time doing that.
If you go farther down the same road that the trout farm is on, you come to Hot Creek.

This is a natural hot springs area.  Mom has been taking a geology class through the seniors program at UCI so she really wanted us to hike down the cliff and check it out.

I am never shocked at the level of stupidity that humans can reach and yep, sure enough, despite this sign (and others like it warning of past DEATHS), there were still people swimming in the creek.

At which point I had to give the tired old "yes, I know, but YOUR mother says no, you can't go in the creek even though everyone else is doing it" explanation.  You know, the one that is instantaly guaranteed to make you the meanest mom in the world?  Yeah, that one.  I'm so tired of that one.
Luckily, the one upside of the kid having an attention disorder is that by the time we were back out on the highway, he'd completely forgotten the hot springs, the creek, being mad at me and possibly even that I existed at all.
I don't think he noticed me again at all until it we were checked into our hotel in Bishop and heading to dinner and he hit me up regarding what the potential dessert offerings might be at the restaurant.
Back to reality...and we still had one more day of driving to do!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Trout Farm Incident

One incident that occurred during our trip was so odd that I decided it deserved its own post.  I’m calling it “The Trout Farm Incident.”  Not really sure how to describe it except that it was kind of a cross between a fishing trip, an episode of “Cops”, and an episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

Sort of.
It all started innocently enough.  I had booked the Tahoe Queen excursion specifically to appeal to my mom and thought I should do something that would specifically appeal to the kid as well.  He’d been mentioning going fishing and while I was on-line Googling “things to do in Lake Tahoe”, I came across a listing for the Tahoe Trout Farm. 
It sounded like a great option for our group considering we didn’t have any fishing equipment of our own and the kid was a novice fisherman.  He’d only been once before on a Cub Scout fishing excursion during which not a single fish was caught.  Plus, this place offers to clean the fish for you (not a part of fishing that I am very fond of) – SOLD!
So, off we went to the trout farm.  Now, from the website, it looks totally normal, right?  And when we got there, it still appeared relatively normal…if somewhat smaller than I was expecting from my own previous experiences at fish farms.  We parked and walked up to the office to check the prices and get set up.  The first person we see is an older man who, except for the camouflage clothing and long beard, could be a twin for Phil Robertson from “Duck Dynasty.”  .  Instead, this guy has a short beard and is wearing a stained undershirt (which shoulda been my first clue to the “Cops”-like drama that was about to unfold) and had some kind of mixture of motor oil, fish guts and bait all over his hands.  Then again, he is working in a fishing shack so I made allowances at the time.

And really, he turned out to be very nice.  He came out and showed Ryan exactly how to bait his hook, where to stand, how to set the hook once the fish bit and everything.  He then gave me a net and told me to stand by to scoop up the fish once Ryan reeled it in.  I was okay with that having done a lot of fishing as a child – I can bait a hook with a worm and everything.
But I did catch and release fishing (so I’m even okay with holding a squirmy fish while unhooking it so I can throw it back) so I was NOT prepared for what my next job would be.  I was to take the fish over to a nearby stump and use a piece of metal pipe (provided by undershirt guy) to whack the fish between the eyes and kill it.

Umm…yeah…no…not gonna happen.  Undershirt guy rolled his eyes at me, but agreed he would be the designated fish-whacker.
Ryan dropped his baited hook in the water and I’m not kidding he had a fish hooked about 5 seconds later.  I swooped in with the net, undershirt guy did his pipe whack thing and we had our first fish.

Now, all during this process, an older lady kept coming out from a nearby house and was kind of fussing at undershirt guy.  You know how old married couples will kind of bicker at each other?  Except something seemed a little off about her (besides her missing teeth) but I was initially paying so much attention to helping Ryan with his fish and managing the net and trying not to fall in the pond that I didn’t really grasp until later that she was drunk.

So Ryan keeps dropping his baited hook in and hauling out fish after fish until we had four in our bucket.  He wanted one more, but I decided it was coming way too easily so we should move to a different spot on the pond where he might have to work a little more for it.  While we were moving, the old lady finally fussed at undershirt guy enough that he went off to do whatever she was bitching about and left a younger guy (presumably his son?) to help us.  I never did find out who this guy was because although he was wearing a matching stained undershirt (making me think he was part of the family), he didn’t speak.  Like, at all.

Eventually, Ryan catches his last fish and the young guy took up the fish-whacking duties on that one and when I indicated we were done, he took the pole and the bucket of fish to the shed to clean them for us.

Meanwhile, we all headed to the outdoor hand washing station to get all the fish gook off our hands.  The station was at the far end of the pond putting the shed between us and the only escape route back to the parking lot.

While we are washing our hands, old undershirt guy comes back and heads for the shed.  He’s closely followed by old, toothless (and I now realized) drunk-off-her-ass lady who has ratcheted her bitching up to a whole new level.  She’s reached the ranting and raving level and is screaming that the two guys need to give her the cordless phone in the shed so she can call the cops.


The two guys (who have obviously been through this before) CLOSE THEMSELVES UP IN THE SHED and we’re now stuck outside with crazy drunk lady blocking our only path of escape.  I mean we’d have to walk within inches of her to get out so I decide we’re probably safer to stay where we are and hope she eventually gets tired of beating on the shed and goes away.

I was okay with that plan until her yelling reached a certain point and started to include profanity.  And then it started to include the F word at the top of her lungs…and after about the second or third F-bomb got dropped I…don’t know what got into me, but I had had ENOUGH.

Now, I’m not above dropping some choice words myself in the privacy of my own room with the door shut or when I’m with a group of all adults, but I’ve gone to great lengths to keep profanity out of my household and not teach it to my son and there is no freakin’ way I’m gonna let some backwoods hillbilly crazy alcoholic teach my kid the F-word.  So next thing I know, I’m yelling “HEY!  YOU WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE, THERE’S A KID HERE!”

I’m normally so mild-mannered and avoid confrontation like the plague, but my mom told me afterwards that even she was afraid of me in that moment.  Apparently, I’ve got some Mama Bear in me somewhere and this bitch was messin’ with my cub!

From the moment I first yelled “HEY!", she just stopped completely, muttered something about how of course she knew how to behave around kids and disappeared back toward the house.  Once she was gone, the two undershirt guys opened the shed back up (big, brave men that they were) and the older guy started apologizing all over the place.

By then, I just wanted to get out of there because I was afraid the crazy lady was gonna come back.  They told us our fish were free and they’d even clean ‘em for free, too, and they gave us business card for a local restaurant where we could take the fish and they’d cook them for us for dinner.  I said find and that we’d wait in the parking lot by our car for them to bring the fish to us.

I did end up giving them $20 because of how nice the guy was to help Ryan at the beginning and, frankly, if he had to put up with that lady’s crap every day, I kinda felt sorry for him.

Then I had to have the whole talk with Ryan about what had happened to make sure he was okay and that he understood what was going on and all he said was “Mom, you sure knew how to make that lady shut up and go away and you didn’t even have to fight her or anything.  I’m glad you never got that mad at ME!”

We finally got our fish all cleaned and in a bag with ice and went off to the restaurant where we had delicious fresh trout prepared two different ways:  half of them were battered and fried and the other half were sautéed in a sherry cream sauce.  We could have had a third preparation but it was Cajun seasoning and mom can’t tolerate spicy stuff so we didn’t do that one.

And the fish were DELICIOUS so I suppose all’s well that ends well!

What about you?  Did you ever find yourself in a situation where you were forced to stand up for yourself (against your better judgment)?  How did it turn out?


Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Lake Tahoe - Dream Vacation Part 2

I know what you're thinking.  "Damn, I just can't get enough of Kelly's vacation photos from four and a half months ago!"

Don't worry, I won't deprive you any longer of the continued torture excitement of re-living my vacation with me.

Since riding inner tubes down the ski runs and grabbing air on a waverunner wasn't really my mom's cup of tea, I needed to find an excursion that was more suitable for her.  Enter the Tahoe Queen - a genuine Mississippi paddle boat that was taken apart, shipped to Tahoe and re-assembled.  It departs several times a day for a tour of the lake and a visit to Emerald Bay.

Here's the kid posing next to a life preserver before we took off.

This is a view across the lake towards the Nevada side.  That beige blob in the center is Cave Rock.  It's an ancient lava flow that is hollow through the middle and was a sacred site for the local tribes of Native Americans.  We had a more up close visit to it later in our trip so you'll be able to see it in more detail.

I had to take a picture of the water color in Emerald Bay - now you can see how this area got it's name.  Usually you have to go the the Carribean to see water this color!

This boat dock is part of what is known as "Boat Camp."  The first time I ever was actually tempted to go camping was when I saw this set up.  You rent a boat, put all your gear in it and boat across the lake then tie up at one of the mooring spots here and take your pick of 25 campsites by picking a chit out of a box.  You then have this entire gorgeous bay basically to yourself for swimming, boating, fishing, etc.  Osprey, bald eagles and bears all frequent the area.
One of the places you can swim to is Fannette Island located in the middle of the bay.  The captain of the Tahoe Queen told us some interesting stories about the history of this island.  We learned about Captain Dick who lived on the island and built his own tomb on it so he could be buried there.  Fate had something else in store, though, as he was lost in a storm on the lake and never buried on the island.  The structure on the top of the hill is a Tea House that was built by the owners of the nearby Vikingsholme estate.
Here's a closeup view of the Tea House.  It used to have a lovely wooden roof, but some idiots decided to build a fire inside it and they burned the roof off.

Here's a view of the Vikingsholme estate.  If you look at the far left of the building you can see it has a completely round tower.  The woman who built the estate brought a fantastically expensive round carpet from the Middle East specifically for that tower.  When she got it back here, she found that the tower (which was nearly complete at that time) was too small for the carpet - so she had it torn down and re-built to fit.
On the way out of the bay, the captain pointed out this tree that had been hit by lightning - and nesting far out on the top branch is a pair of ospreys.  There was a similar nest of bald eagles on the other side of the bay entrance, but it was so far away from the boat that I couldn't get a good picture.
I did manage to get a shot of one of the parent ospreys in flight, though.
We had so much fun on the Tahoe Queen that when we got back we decided to explore the Ski Run marina where it docks.  We made reservations to do more water activities like renting our own boat and going parasailing.  Plus, I found this cute mermaid statue!  The brown building with the large blue and green map of the lake on the wall that's in the background of this photo has a fantastic restaurant with a deck looking out over the marina and the lake.
And here's the view we had during dinner on the deck of that restaurant.  Pretty awesome sunset!

While we were there, I took a photo of these funny birds the locals refer to as "Helldivers."  I asked around, but nobody seemed to know what they are really called.  They all dive together as a group and the water is so clear, you can watch them jetting around underneath the surface as they hunt for fish.

The next day, we were back at the marina to rent our own power boat and take it out on the lake.  I'm not sure what got into us, because none of us have ever driven a boat before and we had no idea where we were going or what we were doing.  And did I mention that Lake Tahoe is...LARGE?  I mean it is really, really, huge.  But I got behind the wheel of this boat anyway and based on our tour the day before on the Tahoe Queen, I navigated us all the way across the lake and back to Emerald Bay.  Mom wanted a closer look at Vikingsholme.  The kid just wanted to show how cool he looks with his sunglasses on his forehead :-)

The next day it was parasailing time.  Here's the kid getting strapped in. 

Why no, I do NOT have a deathgrip on that safety strap, why do you ask?


Almost ready for take off...3...2...1...

And there we are...800 feet above the lake!  We had an option to go to 1200 feet, but Ryan and I both agreed that 800 turned out to be quite high enough thank you very much.  Amazing view!  I wish I'd been brave enough to take my camera up there with me but since it doesn't have a neck strap (or even a wrist one) I was just positive I'd manage to drop it so I left it on the boat with mom.  This was her first time operating a digital camera and I think she did pretty well.

Then it was time for our last day in Tahoe.  Since we'd spent most of our time on the California side or out on the water, we decided to drive up the Nevada side.  Our first stop was Cave Rock (remember I said you'd get a closer look?).  The highway actually passes through the center of the rock and we drove through it later in the day.  This photo is taken from the boat launch ramp directly below the cave looking up.

This was a pretty little cove near the Cave Rock boat ramp.  I can't remember the name of it, but I just loved the scenery so I took a photo of it.



Here's my little social butterfly making friends with some guys who were fishing off the rocks.  I'm so glad he didn't inherit much of my shy streak - he just went over and introduced himself and within a few minutes they were letting him use their fishing rods and helping him catch fish.  I was glad he had the experience because I had taken him to a trout farm in Tahoe earlier in the week where we incident...which is worthy of its own blog entry it was so bizarre and I will write about it in a future post.  It was a little freaky at the time, but definitely one of those things you laugh about (and blog about), later.
After this stop, we went on up the highway to Incline Village where we checked out the Hyatt Resort (and all the rich people's cabins) and did some shopping.  Ryan had gotten a coupon from our hotel for a free stone arrowhead from a shop in the Village and he was determined to get it so we made sure to stop there.  They turned out to have gorgeous jewelry and lots of local crafts and food products (honey, various jams, etc.)  It was a great way to spend our last day.
Next entry...the trip home :-)