Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Light Box

I made myself a light box to help me take better photos. It's just a cardboard box with a light coloured interior, with a couple of white pieces of paper to reflect light and act as a neutral background. I use my Ott light for illumination, which seems to do a good job.

Of course, once I had it all set up, Max had to check it out:

what is it about cats and boxes??!

I haven't had time to fully review and absorb the photography postings that Dwyn has recently been doing for the Beadfx blog (you really ought to check them out if you are taking pictures of your product and want to improve the finished result), but I do think my not too fancy light box does make an improvement on the finished photo.

For example, here's a closeup shot of the earrings you can see hanging in the photo above:

The detail is really good. So good, in fact, you can clearly see how not round these beads I made really are! Oh, who needs round beads?? I like the wonky ones!! :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Classes Have Begun

As of this week, night school classes for fall 2009 have begun. Monday nights for the next 10 weeks for me shall be spent at French class. However, the first session last night was rather intimidating and disappointing as the Intermediate/Advanced class I had signed up for turned out to be quite advanced indeed and very much over my head. I had no trouble following the teacher and keeping up with her agenda, but the majority of the students appeared to be extremely advanced, I would say fluent, I don't know what they were even doing there (the teacher seemed rather unprepared for their expertise as well, we zipped through the exercises she had prepared in no time). Given that I couldn't understand half of what most of them said, I was on the phone first thing this morning to switch to an Intermediate class.

It's hard to tell from the write up in the course selection book which class I should be in. The description for the Intermediate/Advanced class says it "is designed for those with some knowledge of French" - I was obvioulsy fooled by the use of the word "some". There is an actual Advanced class offered as well but on a different night, maybe that's why they all showed up in my class instead? Ah well, live and learn. I just didn't want to find myself in a class where I was already ahead of the learning curve.

Kind of a drag, because the location was only 5 minutes from home and now that I've switched to a different class at a different school, it will probably take close to an hour to get there and about half an hour to get home again, but hopefully it will be worth the switch!

Tonight's class is "Bead Crazy - Advanced", with my sister also in attendance. We've already taken the beginner and intermediate classes, so I know I'm definitely ready for the advanced level in this one!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fare Thee Well, Mr. Fox

As I was driving home yesterday, just about 10 minutes away from Argyle on a fairly busy county road, I passed by a fox trotting along the side of the road. He was heading towards me and I was so surprised, I actually stopped the car alongside him (luckily, there wasn't another car close behind me) but he barely spared me a glance, he just kept moving but he wasn't at all afraid of my car, that's for sure. He was kind of like The Littlest Hobo, just travelling along, a fox with a mission. I watched him in my rear view mirror until he headed into the brush on the side of the road but that wasn't until a couple more cars had driven past him. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to pull out my camera (I am seriously considering mounting one on the dash of my car to capture just these sorts of shots!), so this photo is from the Internet but it was just such a strange occurrence, to see one so close and so unperturbed by the proximity of a vehicle.

Northern tribes of Native Indians are said to believe the fox is a wise and noble messenger. Wonder if he was trying to tell me something??

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Antiques in Argyle

Driving home from the cottage today, my sister and I stopped in at the antique store in Argyle, ON, known as the "Argyle Blacksmith Shop". This place is literally a stop light at a four corners, with the antique store on one corner, somebody's house on the 2nd corner, a bed and breakfast on the 3rd corner and a general store (with some pretty fabulous baking and a nice little cafe and gift shop) on the 4th. There is another business that seems to sell plants and fresh vegetables (I haven't been in there yet, but if there's more baking to be had, I might need to check it out) and a chip truck that always has several cars parked in front of it, a couple of houses and that's about the extent of this "town".

The antique store is quite a jumble of stuff, most of it dusty and only some it organized in any recognizable fashion. But they always have really cool stuff on offer. For example, if you happen to be needing a cow skin (the owner assured me it was new, as opposed to used - I guess that means "fresh off the cow"?), a tuba, some green chairs or all of the above, they are currently available but the baby buggie that was out front yesterday was gone today. And yes, Kate, they do have the proverbial black panther - this one was almost life-sized!

I picked up this lovely metal cannister set for only $10, as well as a little bag full of dice, those little swirly things that go in the middle of 45 records (what are they called?), 3 small wooden bowling pins (I think these are called skittle pins and are used in snooker, but don't quote me) and a few other bits and bobs (I especially like the little green plastic road runner) for the grand sum of $1.00. Many thanks to my sister who noticed this bag of goodies in a hard to reach spot (we don't call her "Eagle Eyes" for nothing!)

Where exactly is Argyle? That's easy - it's just east of Beaverton, a little bit north of Woodville, a few miles west of Fenelon Falls and not too far south of Kirkfield. You can't miss it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's Not Always Tidy

I was so pleased to read Jennifer Heynen's blog posting yesterday, where she advised that her bead studio was a little bit messy and she needed to clean up before she could start working on something new (

I don't mean that I was happy that Jennifer had to do this job, just that I was relieved to know that I'm not the only one with a messy bead stash at the moment. Especially since, if you had seen the article about Jennifer's studio in the Summer 2009 issue of Studios Magazine - it was so clean and organized looking. However, in the comments section of that blog posting, she admitted that those pictures were taken before she started working in the studio.

It's just nice to know that other people work and/or create the way I do. I might start with a tidy space but it quickly evolves into sort of an organized chaos. I seem to work best with occasional tidy up sessions interspersed with periods of intense production resulting in jumbled piles of bead stuff, and so the cycle starts all over again.

For me, at the moment, the messiness is getting to be more of a problem because whenever I go to do something or need to find something, it's always a big search through jumbled up collections of half-finished projects on various bead trays and/or a rummage through a couple of boxes holding all sorts of miscellanea (is that a word?). I really need a few hours of concentrated clean-up time but I won't have time for that before next weekend at the earliest, so in the meantime, I'm just working on one project and trying to avoid the temptation to start anything new!

But I can't wait to get tidy again, because I've got lots of ideas for making new things and I want to get started!

Friday, September 25, 2009

We Have A Winner!

As you may recall from my blog posting at the time, back in April, I taught a lovely group of young teens how to make wire crochet bracelets as part of Ellen's 13th birthday celebration. Kelly, a.k.a. Ellen's mom, told me today that one of the participants in that class entered the bracelet she made in the Brampton Fall Fair in the category of "18 years and under - jewellery in any medium" and she won first prize! Congratulations, Stephanie!!

Here's a picture of that prize winning bracelet. I remember being surprised at how fabulous the blue and black combination of beads and wire looked in the finished product. Not that I didn't like the combo when I put the beads together in the kit but it's always different when you see the finished item.

(As it happened, a different Stefanie asked me earlier today if I would teach her how to do wire crochet next time I see her. Given that I learned how to do it from Stephanie Dixon, a.k.a. The Dixon Chick, that's a whole bunch of Stephanies all tangled up in enjoying this technique, don't you think???)

Kelly and I then had a very nostalgic discussion about fall fairs and entering those contests as a child in the hope of winning a ribbon or the very small prize amount (Stephanie will be taking home the astounding sum of $4.00 for her win -don't spend it all in one place, girl!). I can remember going through the fair buildings and checking out all the ribbon winners for baking, handicrafts, 4H entries for raising a cow or growing the biggest pumpkin and all that sort of thing. Then we reminisced about the rides and the cotton candy and the games and the cheesy stuffed animals and the demolition derby...ah yes, those were the good old days at the fair!

If you're in the mood for a fall fair, 'tis the season. The Linday Central Exhibition is on this week, celebrating its 155th year - you can check it out here: Or if this weekend isn't convenient, there is always the Markham Fair, which starts next week: However, be warned - if you were planning on entering your best pie or squash or quilt for judging, entry forms were due last week so you'll just have to plan ahead for next year's competition!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

U2 Rocks Toronto

For those of us who didn't make it to the U2 concerts last week in Toronto, here are a couple of photos of the stage set up at Rogers Centre, as taken by my friend Kelly who was lucky enough to attend.

Last Thursday night, the evening of the 2nd show, I was torching at Beadfx with Dwyn, Deborah and Gayle and we were listening to Q107 on the radio, as they were playing song after song of U2's music. It was almost like being there and certainly great accompaniment to our lampworking.

The week before that, Deborah and I had compared notes about great bands and shows we had seen in Toronto. She hasn't seen U2 live (yet) and I had been to their 2005 show, which was fabulous! One of the coolest things was that there was a local band in the audience with a sign that read, "Our Band + a Song With U2 = Happy Crowd". Bono invited them up on stage, the U2 band members handed over their instruments and this group got to play the U2 song "Out of Control" in front of thousands of fans, and were joined by the band for the 2nd part of the song. It was amazing!! Can you imagine the thrill if you were those kids? Their band was called Menew and I can't say I've heard anything about them since then, but they're still out there and apparently they've also been on Letterman - you can read about them here: I don't know - once you've played onstage with U2, what could be more exciting than that???

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I just found today that Stephanie Sersich won't be coming to Toronto to teach on the weekend of October 23-25 as originally planned. I know from her newsletter that she and her husband are expecting their first baby in January, so I'm certainly hoping that this change in plans doesn't mean she is having health issues in that regard, but I am disappointed not to have the opportunity to learn from her. She had been scheduled to teach three classes at Tank Studio in the Distillery District and I was signed up to take two of them. I love her lampwork beads (see photo, right) and her whimsical style and I was really looking forward to learning how she makes them. I was also excited about taking her Spiny Knotted bracelet class on the Friday night (see photo, left). I own her book entitled "Designing Jewelry with Glass Beads", which contains the instructions for the bracelet but it's so much more fun if you can have the designer actually tell you what to do. Plus I was hoping she'd have some of her own beads available to purchase. I was also looking forward to seeing Tank Studio, as I haven't yet had a chance to check out this space run by Amy Johnson and Jill Cribbin. Ah well, hopefully she will be able to come to Toronto some other time. In the meantime, I might just have to give this bracelet a try on my own!

If you'd like to see more of Stephanie's work, here's the link to her website:

Tank Studio's website can be found here:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gobble, Gobble

Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away but it certainly felt more like October based on the weather this past Sunday morning - it was single digits overnight which made for a very chilly wake up call. Thank goodness for electric heaters and a fireplace. The clash between cool air and slightly warmer water made for a very foggy morning and we were surprised to look out the window to see 3 unusual visitors making their way through the mist on our front lawn - a gaggle of wild turkeys. In the 35 years or so our family has owned this cottage, I have never seen a wild turkey on our property, although they definitely inhabit the woods across the road. It was quite the sight!

Here's a picture of one of them near the lake:

and all three as they made their way across our neighbour's property:

Our other neighbour popped over to say hello around dinnertime and she was able to easily trump our turkey sighting when she told us the bear had been hanging around their garbage box one morning earlier that week. Biggest one her husband has ever seen, had to be about seven feet tall when it stood up, she said. As much as it's probably safer to see one of our neighbourhood bears from a distance or from the relative safety of inside my car, I'd really like to see one stroll across our lawn some day! (Although I'm guessing my sister would prefer the turkeys!!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hamilton Creek

If you're in the mood for a new fall wardrobe or just something new to wear, allow me to recommend my favourite clothing store, Hamilton Creek in downtown Lindsay. The store is owned by a long time family friend named Cheryl, who has an amazing talent for matching colours and picking the right pieces to suit your body type. In fact, she is so very good at it that it's hard to believe she spent 17 years being a dental assistant for my dad prior to the most recent 17 years during which she has been running this business!

What I really like is that she doesn't lie to you about how something looks when you try it on, she will tell you if it doesn't work, if it doesn't suit you or, most importantly, if it doesn't fit. I find that is rare in the retail world and it's a trait that I really admire.

This past Saturday, Cheryl and her helpful staff, Linda and another nice lady whose name I didn't get, were busy dressing my mom, my sister and I (as well as their many other customers, of course!) We had a fun couple of hours trying things on. My mom and I even bought the same jacket, because we both loved it so much (but I saw it first!).

In fact, I bought several lovely pieces that I am looking forward to wearing over the next few months. I am also feeling quite inspired to make jewellery to wear with them (which I shall of course show you in future blog postings), but for now, let me share these photos of two necklaces that were purchased on this excursion, one by myself and one by my sister. They are quite lovely!

Thank you, Cheryl, for providing such a lovely shopping environment and for all your help as my personal stylist. Life is so much easier when you can open the closet door and know you're going to like what you're going to wear!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Special Anniversary

It's very surprising to me that this time has come around so fast but believe it or not, it is the one year anniversary of when I started writing this blog!! Whoo hoo!!

First of all, thank you to all of my loyal readers. My friend Sharon was one of and possibly the very first. She was also one of the people whose blog inspired me to jump on the band wagon and start writing. She was also very sweet and mentioned me today and yesterday in her blog, for which I am also grateful. Here's the link, if you want to check that out:

Now, I have to admit that unlike what Sharon says, I have not posted every single day during the past 365. There were a few days around the beginning of December when I moved apartments and then when I was away on vacation and away from a computer, around Christmas and then the first week of January 2009 when I was in Mexico, that I did not write anything. Other than that, and once I realized that you could write a blog entry in advance and schedule it to be posted on whatever date and at whatever time you might choose (as I did prior to going to Milwaukee for a week in June), it became every single day.

It has been a great discipline for me to sit down and write something each day, sort of like making the bed every morning (which I usually do, except every now and then when there is a cat soundly asleep in it and I don't have the heart to disturb him). If nothing else on my "to do" list gets done on a certain day, at least I know my bed got made and my blog got written. I am definitely feeling a major sense of accomplishment right now.

I was thinking I could take myself off the hook on the daily posting bit, having done it for a year - it seems there are many blog writers who don't write each and every day (which I must admit, I do find disappointing, when you log into their blog, eagerly expecting a bit of news or information, only to find it's still the same posting from 3 weeks ago and by now you've read that so many times, you could almost recite it by heart) but my sister tells me this is not allowed, I must keep doing it every day. We'll see. Sometimes that has meant posting late at night when I'd rather be getting to sleep, sometimes it is a challenge to know what to write about, occasionally I'm just feeling too darned lazy. So I'm not ready to formally commit to that right at this moment in time, but we'll see how things go along.

In the meantime, again, thank you all for reading and I hope you will continue to drop by and check out my musings.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ahoy, Matey!

You may not have realized, but today is National "Talk Like a Pirate Day" in the U.S. (funny how we don't have these celebrations in Canada, eh?)
Many thanks to Sailorgirl for letting me and her blog readers in on this fact yesterday, so we'd have lots of time to get ready.

If you'd like to learn how to talk like a pirate (arrrh!), you can check out the above link to Catherine's site and follow the link in her posting to the translation page. You can then pick a phrase you'd like to have tranlated. For example, "pardon me, sir" becomes "avast, matey!" and if one were to ask, "where is a fine hotel?" as one does when travelling, you would learn that a pirate would be more likely to say, "Aye, ye scurvy dog! Whar be the nearest fleabag inn?"

There is, of course, an official site to celebrate this day, you can find that here:

As it turns out, I have the perfect skull and cross bones charm for today's festivities, which I picked up in Mexico earlier this year. I'd show it to you, if only my bead stash wasn't such a complete disaster area (the cold weather approaches, long weekends indoors will result, the stash will be sorted...eventually) so instead, I shall treat you to this photo of my favourite pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow. Eyeliner on a man never looked so good!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bits of News

Just a couple of bits of news to pass on:

(1) Andrew Thornton of Green Girl Studios is having his own version of Kate McKinnon's soul cleaning sale (indeed, shouldn't we all?). It started yesterday and will run for the next two weeks. You can check out Andrew's blog here: and follow the link to his sale page. So far, he has been offering quite an eclectic assortment of beads and rings and beautiful things.

(2) If you are in the Toronto area and are looking for something to do this weekend, the fall Bead Oasis show is on at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. You will find all the details here:

Be sure to swing by and visit the Toronto Bead Society booth if you go. You will also find there are lots of amazing bead vendors there, selling their wares, including lampwork artists Karen Elmquist, AirWynn Glass Designs and Susan Stortini to name just a few of my favourites. Irene and Ken of Iguana Beads will also be there, as will the gang from Beadfx, you'll want to check out each of their booths for beads and findings for sure. And you should stop by and say hello to Dwyn, who is working at the Nortel booth on Saturday, let her sell you some glass or a torch.

I am taking the liberty of posting this photo of one of Karen's latest lampwork vessels, is it not the most exquisite thing you have ever seen??

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Toledo Tuxedo

My latest Inspiration for the Beadfx website is known as the Toledo Tuxedo. You can read the story and see the photos behind the name (it's based on a men's clothing store we saw in Milwaukee in June) by following this link to their website:

As you will see, Dwyn's photos for the website are much more flattering than the ones I took myself (as shown here), but I am hoping that my skills will improve after the workshop I took with Kyle Cassidy last weekend. I haven't got myself a digital SLR camera yet, or the macro lens that he recommended for close-up product shots but they're on my shopping list! In the meantime, I'm reading Dwyn's blogs about how to take better pictures and hoping my point and shoot will suffice. It's a great little camera (a Pentax) and I love it because it fits in my pocket and it's easily transportable. I don't think these two photos are overly bad, but Kyle has inspired me to be a little more creative with my settings. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Charted Results

If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you will notice a little box that says "Sitemeter". I use this device to track the number of visitors to my blog and where they are from. I also have a little map showing in the right hand column that shows where my readers are from. I enjoy checking out both of these tools every once and while, as it astounds me to see how many strangers are coming by to check out my blog. Some locations I recognize, like St. Louis is my friend Stephanie and Calgary is probably my brother or sister-in-law and Adelaide, Australia is my friend Bryan (when he remembers!). Other locations, like Belgium or Singapore and all sorts of places all over the United States, represent people I don't know and most of the time, I can't be sure how they got here.

Yesterday, Mr. Kyle Cassidy posted a link to my blog posting about our weekend photography workshop on both his Facebook page and Twitter. This was most flattering (thanks, Kyle!) and it made me wonder how many of his now 803 Facebook friends and 768 Twitter followers might actually come by to check out Monday's post.

As you can see from the chart below, which shows the number of site visits for the past week, there was an obvious jump in my readership yesterday and today as well:

Sadly, the text on the chart photo is rather small but I can tell you that the second column from the right represents yesterday's visitors (96) and the column on the right is today (39 so far). It is most exciting.

Welcome, y'all! Thanks for stopping by!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Don't You Just Love Technology?

I can remember my grandmother telling me when she was in her late 80's that she didn't want to learn how to use a computer, that she had seen and learned to use enough new things in her lifetime and didn't need to add computer skills to that long list. I can see her point, but I'm not there yet. I believe technology is a wonderful thing. I think it's amazing that we can talk to people all over the world and learn new things, look up information or spread a message, all with the help of the Internet.

There's so much going on and so many websites to choose from, it's hard to know where to go. I signed up for Twitter a few months ago and hadn't been back since, until today (thanks, Kyle, for linking to my blog post!). I like the idea but at the same time, I'm not sure what I would post on my updates and I don't know who would care that I've finished eating breakfast or I'm home from work or the cat threw up on the rug again.

I'm on Facebook, which I enjoy a lot, because it's a great way to keep in touch with friends and share photos and see what people are doing.

I don't have an iPhone, but I do have an iPod Touch, which is fabulous. I have hundreds of songs loaded onto it and all the accompanying album art, which is a treat all of it's own. And I have a cell phone, which is a few years old now but I don't use it very much. Nor do I text very often because I only have a numeric pad and it's just too slow to hit all those buttons to type out a message. It's going to be against the law as of October to use your phone in the car unless you have handsfree technology so I'll need to get a new phone and when I do, I might check out something with a Qwerty keyboard.

While we're on the subject, don't you just love the word "qwerty"?? Now that's clever. Whomever realized that the six letters in the top row of your keyboard spells that funky word deserves some serious kudos for that one.

I must say, I felt very behind in the technology arena this past weekend. I was the only one at the workshop without their own digital SLR camera and I also didn't have a laptop to download my photos onto for immediate viewing. People very kindly shared their toys with me, but I'm feeling the urge to do a little shopping this week all the same. So far, I've been able to resist that urge (my new budget is only 2 weeks old, after all!) but I can't say how long I'll be able to hold out.

Here's a picture of Kyle Cassidy from this past weekend, posting a new tweet on Twitter using his iPhone. Did I mention that I first heard about Kyle by reading the blog of my lovely and talented friend, Kate McKinnon, who often mentions what Kyle himself is blogging about or when he has a particularly cool photo posted (they are all cool, but some are more awesome than others). In fact, Kate is also responsible for this blog - I enjoyed reading hers so much, I decided to try it myself. Thanks, Kate!!

Yes, technology is a wonderful thing. I agree it sometimes keeps us from talking to each other face to face in real time but it also has its advantages and I intend to keep making use of all of them as long as my aging brain can handle it!

Monday, September 14, 2009

More from the Photography Workshop

I signed up for the photography workshop with Kyle Cassidy this past weekend on a rather spur of the moment basis last week. Kyle posted on his blog on Wednesday that he was going to be in Toronto teaching and I checked out the details, but had decided I couldn't attend as I didn't have most of the required items. In particular, I don't have a digital SLR camera and it has been years since I used my regular SLR. The next morning, I was still thinking about the course and wishing I could go, so I decided to email the organizer and ask her if everthing on the list was mandatory. She was very helpful and advised that the other attendees were also beginners/intermediate and that it would be no problem for me to share a camera, so I signed up. Then I had to rush out and buy a portfolio book (which involved an hour's drive in rush hour traffic to the closest Henry's location), download a dozen or so of what I thought to be my best photos to Wal-mart's website to be printed as 8x10's and then pick them up at the store.

I am really glad I did sign up, as it was a good way to refresh my camera knowledge from 15? 20? years ago (what was an f stop again?) and by having to use other people's cameras, I got a chance to check out a few different models and see what they were like. One thing I love about the move to digital is the way you can see your image immediately after you take it, no more waiting for the film to be developed! You can also delete the bad shots right away and/or take several more pics if the first one doesn't turn out. The other amazing development in camera technology is the fact that the f stop and amperture information plus a whole bunch of other helpful stuff is displayed either on the LCD screen or inside your viewfinder, and when you download the photo to your computer, that same information is stored and readily accessible - no more having to write down what settings you used! Ah, freedom!!

One of the things Kyle told us was that he likes to photograph ordinary things and add something unusual in the shot. For example, in this photo, he had Shana pose in her very cool 70's print dress with a vacuum cleaner, doing the suburban housewife thing, and then had her throw a ball up in the air. My photo is taken just after she released the ball, so you can tell she has just tossed it but in Kyle's print (not shown), the ball is in motion and her arm has returned to her side, so it looks like the ball is just hovering in the air above her head, you don't really know where it came from (and there you have it, folks, that's what makes the magical difference between the professional's photo and the amateur's!)

In this next photo, he was throwing a dump truck into the camera frame while Shana posed glamourously and someone else was taking the photo. I'm not sure how the final shot turned out but I like this behind the scenes view (and no, he didn't throw the truck at Shana, it just looks like it's about to hit her in the face!)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What a Weekend!

At the moment, I am so tired, I can barely muster up the strength to type. I just got back from a walk, during which a woman said hello to me and I responded with "Good morning." Which wouldn't be a problem except that it is seven o'clock at night! That's how fried my brain is at the moment.

So the details of our weekend workshop with photographer Kyle Cassidy will need to wait for a later post but suffice it to say, we had fun, we learned a lot and I so need to get myself a DSLR camera!! People in the workshop were kind enough to lend me their cameras, so now I am anxiously waiting for them to email me the photos I took, but in the meantime, here are some behind the scenes shots that I took with my very capable Pentax point and shoot.

Here's Kyle being a photo assistant with the lighting umbrella:

This shot is of (L to R) Christine, Nancy, Shana and Kyle working on one of the angel wing pictures:

and last but not least, here's the whole gang just before we said goodbye (minus Kyle's box of Weetabix that he was going to attempt to smuggle through Customs):

Many thanks to Sarah for organizing and hosting this workshop and to Roy for putting up with us doing our thing and always helping out when asked. And special thanks to Kyle for coming to Toronto and sharing his knowledge and talent with us in such a generous fashion.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What I'm Doing Today

I've signed up for a two day photography workshop with this dude:

a.k.a. the very talented Kyle Cassidy (check out his fascinating blog here:

and then helping this guy:

a.k.a. my buddy Dave, celebrate his 40th birthday tonight. His lovely wife Philicia has suggested we might want to tell a few stories of his youth and do a wee bit of a "roast" in honour of the occasion, I'm not sure she fully realizes what kind of a Pandora's box she may have unwittingly opened!

P.S. Good luck to all my friends who are taking part in the 60 km Walk to End Breast Cancer this weekend - Colleen, Jennifer and Marilyn, to name just a couple. Looks like they're going to have lovely weather!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Congratulations, Stephanie!

There has been so much going on lately and I've got lots to tell you about, but one thing I have been remiss in mentioning is the fact that my good friend Stephanie, a.k.a. the infamous Dixon Chick, has been chosen as a Swarovski Ambassador. I'm not entirely sure what this will involve, but I do know that she finds herself in very esteemed company, such as the likes of beading goddesses Jean Campbell, Diane Fitzgerald, Kristal Wick and Laura Timmons, to name just a few. You can click on this link to read more about the ambassador program:

It also means she gets free Swarovski crystals, lucky girl!

Here are some photos from when she did show and tell at the first Toronto Bead Society meeting of the 2009-2010 season this past Wednesday night:

Her 2010 crystal samples:

Stephanie showing off her crystal samples (give a girl a podium and a microphone and looks what happens!):

And her official certificate (notice the sparklies?):

Congratulations, Stephanie!! We are all so very proud of you!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Jaybird

My youngest brother Jay is having a birthday today so I thought I'd send him birthday wishes via the Internet, even though he doesn't have a computer (can you imagine? Life without the Internet? I find it hard, but not impossible, to comprehend. I'm sure it can be done, I'm just not sure I'd want to!)

Here he is with 2 of his 3 kids, photo taken about 4 years ago, when the twins were about 6 months old.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Apparently, the abundance of nines in the date today has a certain appeal for some people. It's called a "calendrical anomaly". It's the last set of repeating single dates that we'll see for the next 90-odd years, since it won't happen again until January 1, 2101.

I remember Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew got married on August 8, 1988 but for those who believe the number 8 is lucky, like the Chinese, it didn't seem to do them much good, as that union eventually ended in divorce. Numerologists also believe the number 9 has special significance. It is said to be associated with forgiveness, compassion and success. The Chinese cite it as their second luckiest number. For some reason, the Japanese believe the complete opposite is true, that 9 is a very unlucky number.

The number 9 is also interesting from a math perspective because if you multiple any single digit by 9, the digits in the resulting number add up to 9. For example, 4 x 9 is 36 and 3 + 6 = 9. Cool, eh?

There's a new movie called "9" opening today (an animated tale about the apocalypse, doesn't that sound cheery?) and a number of companies who are introducing new products today. It's a very special day for Beatles fans, because not only are they releasing digitally remastered versions of all the Beatles studio albums today, they are also releasing The Beatles version of Rockband. If you haven't had a chance to play this video game on Xbox, Wii or Playstation 3, you might want to check it out. I played for the first time last Christmas with my niece and nephews and we had a blast, even though I didn't know most of the songs. I can only imagine how much more fun it would be with this Beatles version, where I would be intimately familiar with 99% of the music. I'd be getting myself a copy ASAP if it didn't also mean I'd need a new TV. Plus I'm not sure my neighbours would be too keen on my introducing a drum kit into my home! But I'm definitely tempted!!

To get you in the mood, check out this ad (how do they do that??):

and here's a picture of me on Abbey Road:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to School

Today was the first day back to school for most kids. Are you like me? I still get the urge to go out and buy new stationery supplies this time of year. I guess because we spent so many of our formative years doing just that at this time of year - new school supplies, shoes, clothes, perhaps a haircut - that it now seems like second nature, even though it has been several years since I finished school.

I went to Staples a couple of weeks ago and had a look around at what they had on offer (I love the ad they used to have, with the Xmas music playing, "it's the most wonderful time of the year..." and the parents skipping around the store with a shopping cart and the kids trailing unenthusiastically behind). They had some really great deals on various items, as if they had set the prices at what they used to cost many years ago. For example, they had packages of 3 hole punched ruled paper on sale for just 24 cents a package! Of course, at that price, I just had to get some. And a new binder and a pencil case and a few other's a picture of Max checking out what I got.

Of course, they also had a lot of really neat stuff that just wasn't available when I was a kid in school - like magnetic shelves and mirrors and other things to stick in your locker to make it more functional and most dramatically, like a laptop computer to take notes on during class, rather than writing things down on paper (doesn't the sound of dozens of students clicking the keys as they type drive the teacher crazy???). In the U.S., if you are a college student or faculty member, you could buy a Mac computer and get a free iPod Touch from Apple. Now that's a cool idea. (Sadly, the offer ends today and it's good south of the border only.

I heard on the news today that a lot of adults who are out of work as a result of the current recession are using their time off productively by going back to college or university. Imagine if you had it to do all over again, what course would you take? Would you want to be the second time around???

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labour Day

Can you believe the end of summer is here so soon? It seems we were just getting started and already it's over. At least, that's the way it feels, now that Labour Day has arrived. We even got an extra week this year and still it seems that summer was too short. Probably because it was so darned cold and wet for most of the season here in Ontario.

Did you know that the Labour Day tradition was started in Canada in the 1870's as a result of labour disputes? In 1882, an American labour leader was here visiting, liked the idea and went home to New York and organized one of his own and thus the tradition was begun in the States. At least, that's what it says in Wikipedia.

How are you celebrating this last day of summer? My sister and I are headed off to another farm auction today. The listing refers to a "small anvil and a blacksmith vise" that will be included in the offerings. The last auction we went to had this "pegleg" vise, which Janine recognized from her iron sculpture/blacksmithing classes up in Haliburton which she has done several summers in a row now, but she stopped bidding on it just under $100, so it will be interesting to see what happens this time if the vise for sale is one that she thinks she needs to have. I'm looking forward to seeing what's available but I'm really going along to make sure she doesn't get carried away and buy one of the several horses that are on offer!