Friday, August 29, 2008

Woman of the Year

Mom called to tell us that she is off to Mississippi tomorrow to set up in advance of Hurricane Gustav. She is flying into Jackson and then driving to Hattisburg to wait and see where she will be needed. The intrepid traveler is off on her last big disaster adventure with the American Red Cross.
For those of you that don't know about her community spirit -- Ella, the matriarch of The FamiLee Jewels, is a volunteer disaster coordinator.
She has been flying into areas devastated by flood, fire and storm for the last 20 years. Ella has served in Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes like Andrew and Katrina. She has assisted Floridians and Californians evacuating from wild fires, and Midwest states each year as the Mississippi reaches flood level and levees are breached. She has shared the heartache of those in Oklahoma City and New York after terror struck our country in those places.
Mom is retiring after this job. At 76 she is willing to admit that 3-6 weeks of 10-12 hour days in less than ideal living situations is getting to be too much.
Her strong opinions and quiet activism have always been a part of my life. You see my Mom is a doer. Never mind delegating and hoping that someone else will carry your ideas through. Just tell her what needs to be done and get out of her way.
She is strong, organized, and committed to what she knows is the right thing to do.
She was room mother , cub scout den mother, girl scout leader and a baker for every sale.
She was a single parent to 4 children for most of our young lives.
She worked very hard and took night classes to better her education yet we never felt deprived.
She attended every game we ever played, every concert we ever sang in, all of our graduations and milestones...she still is.... for her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren.
She is a remarkable woman and an amazing role model for her family, her friends and her community.
People occasionally ask me "Don't you do enough already?" or "Why are you starting another project?" or Isn't that good enough the way it is?".
I only have to think of what Mom would do to know the answer to those questions.
When I grow up I want to be just like her.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Freddy J. came to play

Freddy J. had a play date with Mim and Pip today while Becky went to have another ultrasound. The babies are doing well. They are 1 pound 2 ounces each in size and healthy as can be. For those of you that have not heard they are both boys Liam Patrick and Rory Jacob.
Freddy is very mobile now he walks more that 50% of the time and is very proud of his accomplishment. He says mamama and dadada and says k k k k when the cat walks by. He finds Emily quite amusing and laughs whenever he sees her. The baby gates have been installed and he enjoys his freedom in the rooms we are in.
He had second breakfast with Mim and Pip when he got here. After playing for a while we went for a walk around the block and then had elevenses.
Pip took him down the bike path to the construction site to see the "big trucks" and they came home in time for lunch.

After his nap it was warm enough to play outside in the yard. Walking in the grass was a bit more difficult but he didn't mind the stumbles and spills. He sometimes laughs so hard that it is hard for him to get up again.
He ate leaves and grass, picked Mim's flowers, helped Pip build the new shed and yes tried to swim in the little garden pond. If it was OK for the frog..................and this is the child that acts like you are killing him if you put him in the pool.

We had a great day.
Freddy and Becky left in the late afternoon.
Mim and Pip took a nap and had late dinner.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wedding Finery......Followup

Saturday was wedding day. Jennifer and Brandon made a fabulous couple. The weather was perfect.

There was a small rain shower while we were all in the church...just enough to make a rainbow in the distance as we drove to the reception.

The Work Girls , as Diane's daughters so charmingly call us, were looking very stylish and many were wearing creations by The FamiLee Jewels.

Dianes mother of the bride necklace and earrings looked stunning on her. Actually she looked stunning..... the jewelry went along for the ride.

Linda looked classic in her little black dress and swarovski pearl and crystal necklace and bracelet made by Becky.

Michelle was trendy in a multicolored pearl necklace that she purchased at a jewelry party. She had asked me to make the earrings to match.

I wore my own creation in copper and topaz. I had worn it before at Becky and Dennis'
wedding so it has nice memories attached.

We danced and visited and had a wonderful time, directed by Diane of course "Work girls, get out on the dance floor".

Congratulations Jennifer and Brandon. May the rainbow on your wedding day be a wonderful omen for the years to come.

Roller Coaster Jewelry?

I received another lesson on Sunday regarding free thinking or lateral thinking or "flight of ideas"????? I'm not sure of the correct terminology but basically a lesson in loosening up the way I see things and how I interpret them.

I was working the kiosk for The FamiLee Jewels At The Warehouse. Mike Thomas was singing in his own unique style and I was visiting with customers and making a few sales. Everyone was in good spirits as At The Warehouse is closed for the next 2 weekends so we will all be on summer vacation.

A customer came in. A repeat customer----a very nice gentleman who likes to purchase our jewelry as gifts. He needed a necklace that reminded him of a Roller coaster.

I have to brain just didn't make the jump. I think it stopped working for a minute or two while I looked at shelf displays and through trays of jewelry pretending to look for Roller coasterish items.

Then he picked up one of my wire wraps and said "Something like this. See the way the wire curves around like the track?" My brain shifted to the right.....and I saw Roller coasters. We looked at several pieces. The lady in question liked blue and green not red or orange. She liked sterling silver, not copper or gold. We narrowed it down to one. He chose a round black onyx cabochon with sparkling green inclusions. It was wrapped in swirls of sterling silver wire and he liked the way the anchor wraps on the sides looked like a line of cars climbing the track.

This was not my interpretation of the piece. When I made the wrap I was picturing a dark moon in the night sky. But I have interpretation is not the only one or even the most important one.

I make Roller coaster Jewelry!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Magic of Black---Onyx

Pure black onyx with it's smooth waxy luster makes a stunning backdrop for shining metals and combines well with flashes of color.

Onyx is a fine textured form of quartz in the Chalcedony family. Pure black is the most famous variety but onyx is also found with banded colors.

It is formed in the gas cavities of lava in a multi layering process similar to that of agates.

When the stone has a black base and a white upper layer it can be used to carve cameos.

The finest quality onyx is found in Brazil, India and Madagascar.

Onyx stabilizes, heals and strengthens the root chakra so you may become more productive in the physical world. Black onyx is thought by some to have protective qualities, especially for travelers. It is said to be useful in fighting basic fears and in helping to create the opportunity to move beyond bad relationships. It can also help to heal old emotional wounds.

Onyx was known to the Greeks and Romans. The Romans associated onyx with courage and thought it to be useful in defending oneself from unfair criticism. It was used in Egypt as early as the Second Dynasty to make bowls and other pottery items.

Onyx is one of my favorite stones to work with. As in other forms of design a little black belongs in everything. It pairs well with pearls, with silver and with splashes of strong color. Here are some of our pieces that employ onyx.

To clean your onyx jewelry use a soft cloth or a mild detergent. Avoid chemical and ultrasonic cleaners as these my bleach the color.

In the Jungle

Yesterday I had the pleasure of working in our gardens for much of the day. This years weather pattern of daily afternoon rain showers has been a blessing. I have not had to water the garden much this year or use any fertilizer but it was a jungle out there.

I spent much of the morning yanking out weeds, grass, and flowers that were coming up where I never planted them.

Really-a whole "bush" of pink cone flowers growing out of a half inch hole between the slate pavers!

Trumpet vine, wisteria, and plume poppy were everywhere.

The birds, bees, grasshoppers, chipmunks, daddy long legs, and dragonflies were not happy--apparently they liked the yard the way it was.

By mid afternoon the skies had begun to darken and by 4 o'clock it was raining steadily.

I'm sure that before tomorrow's rains the reforestation (or is that rejunglization?) by grass and clover will have started, but until then I will enjoy unobstructed views of the pond, the flowers and the creatures that inhabit them.

Before I left for work this morning I wandered through our backyard oasis. The skies were once again clear and I wished for another day off to finish the job.

Ah Well! The weekend is coming soon enough...............Until then I will enjoy the peepers and bullfrogs singing me to sleep and the birds providing my alarm clock in the morning.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Agate is a beautifully striped, finely grained gemstone that is found in a wide variety of bright colors and textures.

Agate is a chalcedony quartz that forms in banded layers. It is often found in volcanic rock as a round nodule with concentric bands like the rings in a tree trunk. Some bands look like eyes, while others resemble scallops or landscapes.

Some agates are hollow with the inner deposit consisting of quartz crystals directed toward the center forming a crystal lined cavity or geode.

Agates are said to balance energies.

They are known for protection of children, for imparting courage and for aiding in healing.

In ancient civilizations people put agate in their drinking water to ward off sickness.

In many traditions agate is believed to cure snake bites and scorpion stings.

Persian magicians used agate to divert storms and still thunder and lightning.

At The FamiLee Jewels we love using the many variations of agate in our work. Some of our favorite pieces are agate and geode slices that have been wrapped in copper or sterling silver wire.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Wedding Finery

One of the things I enjoy most about making jewelry is creating special occasion finery. I love being able to collaborate with a customer and to give them exactly what they need to feel beautiful on their special day.

My friend Diane recently gave me an opportunity to create her mother of the bride jewelry. She had an idea of what she wanted and pictures of what she liked and color choices so we put our heads together to come up with this lovely Swarovski crystal and cream pearl piece. She looks spectacular in it. I can't wait for the wedding next Saturday!
Great for me too because I have enough supplies left over to make another. It will soon be in my weekend shop At The Warehouse in North Albany, and listed on our ETSY site.
Contact the FamiLee Jewels if you are in need of special occasion jewelry. We love to do it and that shows in the work. Your piece will be spectacular.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

R&R Weekend Camping

The FamiLee Jewels spent last weekend enjoying some well needed rest and relaxation camping in central Massachusetts. Becky's bed rest restrictions were lifted in time for the Linehans to join us and the Massachusetts Lee's met us there.

It turns out that Freddy J is a great little camper. He loves being out doors, with the major exception of the pool---you would have thought we were torturing him! He slept well at night, loved the swings and had a great time learning to walk.

We went kayaking and enjoyed seeing multiple beaver dams, dragon flys and a great blue Heron as well as a variety of beautiful water plants and flowers. The Quabbin Reservoir provided us with a beautiful area to enjoy.

We enjoyed camp fires, s'mores, Fred's pancake breakfasts, and competitive games of Phase 10, Skip-Bo and Mexican Train Domino's.

The weather was gentle with us.

The campground was well run.

The company was great.
A great time was had by all.