Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011? Really?

2011???  How did this happen? I look at the number and it doesn’t look real to me. I guess that is what happens when half of your life has been lived in the 20th century.

I have never really liked New Years all that much. My birthday is one month later. To me New Years is really all about getting older. Plus I usually get a cold or the flu at that time of year. Every photo taken of me when I was a child on my birthday shows me sick in bed with a pointy birthday hat blowing out the candles.

Normally on New Years Eve we spend the evening with friends but this year it is just the two of us. Which is fine really. We have dinner reservations at a nice restaurant and then we’ll come home and watch the Twilight Zone marathon. That has been the highlight of New Years weekend for us for quite a few years now. We love those old episodes no matter how many times we see them. Rod Serling was quite a genius. Too bad he smoked like a chimney and died so young.

In one month we head out to Tucson for a glorious week communing with the desert. I cannot wait to get back there. We decided not to go for the Gem Show this year. I didn’t really spend that much time at it last year. All I wanted to do was to be outdoors. Hiking in the desert. Taking pictures. Plus it is so crowded that week. The restaurants are full to overflowing and it is nearly impossible to get into the really good places. So this year we are going the week after the Gem Show. We are staying at the same resort we stayed at last year, The Westward Look. It is a lovely place and one of the only ones without a golf course. Neither of us is really into the whole golfing mentality. They have lovely grounds and they even have a kitchen garden that the chef uses to pick food for his menu. Talk about farm to table freshness!

We have friends who spend the winter in Tucson and they keep us very busy seeing new things. This year they tell us we are going to go to see Mount Lemmon. We didn’t go last year because I was NOT interested in seeing snow. I am still not interested in seeing snow, but they insist we must see the mountain up close, so I guess we will. Of course Sabino Canyon is on the itinerary again as well as Saguaro National Park. That place blew me away last year. The quiet was so intense. You could hear the cactus breathe.

For now I will try and be patient and be in the now. Even if it is freezing and my boots leak.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Guess Who Came to Dinner

Albino Sparrow, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.
I could not believe it! An albino sparrow at my bird feeder!

I just learned from an online friend that this bird is not an albino, but has a condition called leucism. You can read more about it here. Thanks Lidia!

Sorry for the not so great picture but he was moving so fast and I had to take the photo through the screen door. Plus since I was indoors, the flash went off.

It was Murphy's law of image taking!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


11th Birthday, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.

Last night Ethan, my 11 year old grandson slept over. Words cannot express how much I love seeing him and having him over. We have a special bond, he and I. Even though he lives just around the corner from my house and we see one another a few times a week, I never tire of seeing his sweet smiling face.

He lights up my life. He makes me smile. I am more like a second parent to him since he has no father. I am his “in case of emergency” person. I pay for the things his single mother cannot afford. Like sports and camp and clothing. I am only too happy to help him in any way I can. He deserves the best, he really does. He doesn’t have it easy.

He brought over a Christmas movie for us to watch as well as a few of his magic tricks. He is really into magic and is getting quite good at it.

He did manage to find my gifts for him since there aren’t too many hiding places in my tiny condo. He then proceeded to spend quite some time trying to figure out what exciting things were inside the packages. At one point he had a flashlight and was trying to look into the seams of the wrapping paper. It was quite funny. We played 20 questions about it but of course whenever he came close to guessing I clammed right up!

After a lovely dinner of Chinese food, we settled into the bedroom to watch the movie. I worked on my Bead Journal Project as we watched. It was cozy and warm. Those moments for me are so full of love I am filled to bursting. Talk about gratitude. Life hasn’t been easy for either of us. We share that.

Today is early release for the upcoming holiday, and so I will pick him up from school at around 1 o’clock.

Perhaps this afternoon we will have a lovely game of scrabble and some hot chocolate and cookies.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Warm Wishes to You All

cloudscape, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.
I want to send everyone warm wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year.

Whether you celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanza, Festivus, Second Thanksgiving or nothing at all.

Thank you all so much for following my blog and for your kind and thoughtful comments throughout the year. I enjoy sharing with all of you and look forward to many more posts and comments!

Enjoy the season and stay warm!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Second Thanksgiving

2 trees, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.

It is very hard being a Jew this time of the year. You don’t celebrate Christmas. You try to conform. You bring in food for the holiday party. You bring in a gift for the Yankee swap. You try and put up with the Christmas carols in the stores while you are food shopping. Even the blogosphere is all Christmas, all the time. Everybody getting ready, getting ready. But you aren’t getting ready for anything. Well actually you are getting ready for it to be over so that normal life can resume.

I still remember when I was a child, all the things I did to try and celebrate Christmas. Once after Christmas was over and trees were being discarded, I went around my neighborhood and removed the leftover tinsel from the trees and brought it home. I made my little brother stand in the corner while I decorated him with the found tinsel. I was that desperate.

Another time, I found a red bow in the trash, attached it to a pine bough from a tree in my yard and hung it on the front door. I thought my mother would die of a heart attack. She ripped it down and said we don’t celebrate Christmas. End of story!

So needless to say, when I got married the first time, my husband was not Jewish. Christmas was a big deal for his family. Of course I too went nuts. I made ornaments from felt and wood. I made gifts and decorated the house and the tree. And every year as the kids got older, the tree got bigger. The gifts were no longer hand made. There were nintendos, toaster ovens, computers, electronic games, and boxes and paper everywhere.

When we lived in Florida, Christmas was especially hard because every year my very Jewish parents would come to visit to get out of the cold. They made sure to tell us that there were to be no signs of Christmas anywhere in the house or they wouldn’t come over. So the day after Christmas we would scramble to take everything down. It wasn’t easy! But we managed. Although one year I seem to remember seeing a stray piece of tinsel in the corner of the living room and hoping they wouldn’t notice.

So now, my adult children are used to Christmas. My daughter has a tree and decorates her house with all manner of Santas, nativities, and pine boughs both real and fake.

We still have a nice family dinner with turkey and all the fixings at my house. My parents come.

We can’t call it Christmas dinner though so we call it Second Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reposting photo

Single leaf x two, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.


Single leaf x two, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.
I have had a few inquiries regarding the image on my blog yesterday of the spider plant. I will tell you a little about how I made it.

The other day I stumbled upon a scannography web site with some incredible imagery. Much to my delight, it was all done using a scanner. Now, as a graphic designer, I have a wonderful scanner. But I have only ever used it for scanning photos. And now that nearly all the photos are digital and no longer need scanning, my scanner has been collecting dust in the corner.

I have always known that you can place objects on the scanner but I never had much luck with that. I tried putting my jewelry on it but metal looks really terrible on a scanner. Too many reflections. You can see that in the bead work I have tried to scan. The colorful beads look fine but anything with any metallic sheen looks awful.

What I learned was that if you turn off all the lights in the studio and leave the cover of the scanner off, you can lay things on the scanner and get some really interesting effects. So I went all over the house, stealing leaves, both dead and alive from some of my houseplants. I got some interesting effects. On this one, I scanned in a leaf and then in Photoshop, duplicated the layer, flipped it and set it to multiply. Voila.

You can create many interesting effects this way. Some people even take the scanner outdoors and use the sky as a background instead of the darkness of a room. I think this has endless possibilities and am looking forward to trying other things with it.

Is it cheating? I guess so. But I take imagery where I can find it. Especially when it is too cold to go out with my camera.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Miscellaneous Monday Musings

Spider plant, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.
I like reading blogs. Everyday I seem to find new and interesting ones that really challenge my thinking about life and living.

And they don’t always have anything to do with beading or jewelry making or art in any way.

There is one blog I follow by a woman who drives an 18 wheeler for a living. Now that is a job I would never think about doing but she writes an interesting blog about her life on the road.

Then there is the one by the career adviser with Aspergers who is married to the farmer. Now that is a blog that is NEVER dull!

Oh and I can’t forget about the doomsday writer who is counting down the days until we run out of oil. He calls it Peak Oil and reading his blog is like watching the first “Terminator”. A most depressing vision of the future. But I keep going back every Monday for more. I make no excuses.

I don’t really like the blogs that are always trying to sell me something or give me something if I post here and post there. I have stopped following those as I simply don’t have the energy for them.

I am also finding that I enjoy connecting with people through their blogs more than through facebook. There is something rather unerving about facebook. I am not sure what it is that bothers me so much about it but I do think it has a lot to do with privacy or lack thereof. When I leave a comment on a blog, I feel like I am speaking directly to that person and no one else. But on Facebook, I am speaking to everyone. I don’t really like that. It feels very invasive to me.

I like having my blog connected to facebook so that people can see my latest post but that is about the only useful thing I can find about it. Oh and it is nice to know that some of my oldest friends are still around and to see what they are doing. Other than that I am going to stick to blogs. If you have any favorites that you would like to share, I’d love to hear about them!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ultrasuede added

BJPJanuary2011, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.

So right off some mistakes were made here.

The main mistake was that I cut the Lacy's to size and it became very hard to work right up to the edge.

I had purchased a few pieces of Ultrasuede so I glued and basted the piece to the Ultrasuede. I love the color of the Ultrasuede. it is very rich and luscious. Plus now I can get a grip and am able to bead up to the edges. I still haven't figured out the best way to edge this. I'll have to wait until the beads are all in place and then see what I want to do with the border. I don't want the white of the Lacy's to show.

I am thinking that this might make a nice bag or something. Not quite sure yet since I am so inexperienced and don't know exactly where this will lead.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Care and feeding of the Birds

woodpecker, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.

It has been so cold here for the last week. To me anything under 38 is too cold. But it has been in the 20's relentlessly.

I am happy that I can help my little bird friends out. I just recently realized that I have two different woodpeckers coming to my feeder. There is this one in the photo and a red headed one as well. They are the sweetest birds. Always waiting patiently for their turn at the feeder. The funniest thing about them is that they cannot seem to get a grip on the iron railing. So while they are waiting for their turn at the suet, they slowly slide down, down, is quite funny really.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rest in Peace Elizabeth Edwards

When I arrived home from work today and turned on the news, I was greeted with the news that Elizabeth Edwards had died. Immediately my eyes filled with tears.  I wasn't expecting them. After all, I did not know her personally. She wasn't family. And yet, I felt so deeply saddened and humbled by her death. Sometimes things just hit us in ways we don't expect.  

She suffered so much pain in her life. Not everyone gets hit like that. One thing after the other. First her teenage son died. Then her stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis. And finally, being left alone to deal with all this pain by a cheating spouse. How much can one person take? If it were me, I don't know that I would have ever gotten past the first tragedy. The death of a child. How does one go on from that? But she did. And with grace. She was a fighter to the end and a real role model for all women today, young and old.

We lost an important person today.

Rest in Peace Elizabeth Edwards.

Monday, December 6, 2010

BJP2011 Jan beginnings

BJP2011 Jan beginnings, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.
After wracking my brain the past few weeks, I have finally decided on a size and theme for my Bead Journal Project for 2011. The size will be 3 inches by 3 inches with rounded corners. I got the idea from Dee. Her work is sublime and I hope she doesn't mind that I borrowed a few techniques from her. The first being the size and the rounded corners and the second is using more seed stitches as opposed to back stitch. I love the way she uses the seed stitch to fill in the backgrounds of her designs. You can really tuck those little delicas in in a way the rounder seed beads cannot be. Of course, Dee's way with color and blending cannot be matched, but she has inspired me so much!

For a theme I thought I would just try and use metal clay in each piece. I love making small metal clay components. Usually when I get enough different sizes and shapes, I can then begin to play with the pieces in a variety of different designs.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

So sweet!

cute sparrow, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.

The bird feeder was incredibly busy today. Whenever we put out suet, look out! We had two different woodpeckers and even a starling! This little guy was the most photogenic though. Just look at that face!
Even the big bad blue jay paid us a visit but I didn't get a shot of him. Maybe next weekend.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


birds at my feeder, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.

In winter, I could sit in my bedroom and watch the birds at my feeder all day long. As if I don't have anything else to do. Living in the city, I mainly get sparrows. Tons of them. Occasionally I get a rambunctious blue jay, the occasional chickadee and when the snow flies, if I am lucky, I get a cardinal. Oh and woodpeckers on the suet.

When I lived out in the country I had nuthatches, grosbeaks, evening grosbeaks, and wild canaries.

But now I must be satisfied with sparrows.
In fact, they are not so bad. Kind of cute.
Very curious and not at all shy.