The Ramblings of a Creative Soul

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


For years, I have been making beaded snowflake ornaments. Originally, they were made as Christmas presents for family members who did not get to experience much snow during the holiday season. I also found them to be wonderful gifts for teachers and to dress up bottles of wine.

My mother always had handmade ornaments on our tree. Her snowflake ornaments were made by crocheting. That is one craft I have never been able to master. She also decorated Styrofoam balls with bits of ribbons and pieces of old costume jewelry and beads. I am fortunate to have those ornaments now. To me, a Christmas tree needs to have ornaments made by hand with love hanging from them.

My ornaments are unique in that I try to make each one different, just as in nature. I use pieces from old jewelry that I look for at tag and garage sales. My snowflake ornaments are made with clear beads. I prefer them that way. I like the way they sparkle from the tree.

I started selling my ornaments a few years ago. I like the fact I have sent snowflakes to LA, Miami and Paris. I just wish I could find a way to ship the real stuff come January. Living in an area known as the Snowbelt - I would have a lot to ship!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Detour Over

I am happy to report that my amazing son has completed his final radiation treatment and has returned to school.

This mom was one emotional wreck when she said goodbye. He has lots of people looking out for him which made the goodbye easier. I look forward to watching him spread his wings and put this part of his life in the background.

Thanks for reading our travels along the detour. It is time to get back to creative endeavors and topics.

Detour over.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lessons Learned From The Detour

We have been traveling the detour for two months now. We are all still sane (or as close as we can be) and can find humor in some of our journey. I view that as a positive. I continue to be in awe of my son and how he has handled this. We have yet to hear a "why me?" or a meltdown.

We are hoping he had his last chemo treatment a few days ago. We await the scan to determine whether additional chemo is needed or if he gets to move on to the next form of torture - radiation. Hopefully our travels down the detour will be coming to an end soon.

Here are some observations I have made along the detour.

During difficult or bad times, take attendance as to who is present. I think you will be surprised by who is there and who is not. Focus your attention on those who are present. You will be happier that way. I am still trying to work on that one.

Nurses are amazing people. We have yet to encounter a nurse that was not caring. In the oncology unit, the nurses brighten up when they see my son and pop in during treatment to talk with him. Early on during our detour when we were still uncertain as to what we were dealing with, the nurses were our lifeline for information. I used to think Hospice workers were angels on earth but I think all nurses are.

Little gestures mean a lot. An email, text message, phone call or card can brighten a day. The days following treatment are long and difficult. Those little gestures helped to lighten the load during particularly rough days.

The quiet of 3am is when fear comes knocking. Do not give into it. Try to keep positive thoughts and energy in your life. They make the detour easier.

Ask the person with the illness how they are. My son complains that many people - especially extended family - fail to ask him. They think they are helping by ignoring it but instead are insulting him. He is in the biggest battle of his life and would like that recognized. Another thing that drives him crazy is when someone asks me how he is and he is right next to me.

Along that same line, even though my son's prognosis is good, he has to go through hell to get there. Many people seemed to forget that.

Plan for the unexpected. We were sent reeling when our son's college denied his return in the fall because of the cancer. Thanks to our son's oncologist and my husband's unrelenting pressure, the school finally changed their decision. Never in a million years did we think we would have to fight them and cancer.

Chicken soup really does work wonders. On days when my son was quite nauseous, chicken soup in its various forms were things he could eat. Thank heavens for the late hours at our local Chinese restaurant and their won ton soup.

Each chemo treatment brings a different side effect. Just when we had figured out how to handle one, a different one would pop up.

As a parent, you want to hover. Do not. We let our son take control of his illness and care. He had so little control in his life this summer, he needed this. He knew we were there for him. When the pain would get to be too much, he would ask that we call his doctor. He had friends take him to some chemo treatments to help provide diversions. He knew if he needed something, he just had to ask us. He has thanked us countless times for giving him this control. It wasn't easy for us but it was the right thing to do.

Teal hair makes cancer more fun. My son's friends decided a bright hair color was the way to deal with hair loss. His hair is quite short now thanks to the "shedding" and the teal helps to detract from the bald patches he has. People often stare when he is out. To those who make comments - especially negative ones, my son looks at them and says it is the effect of chemo. So true. Had he not had chemo, he would never have teal hair.

Here is hoping the next posting from the detour will be to announce the detour is over.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oh, The Places You'll Go

I walked with my son today through a door that read Oncology. In the three weeks that we have been traveling the detour, I had been busy making plans and dealing with family and friends. I had not allowed myself to deal with the fact we were on the detour. There in black and white, were the letters O N C O L O G Y. Seeing them made my stomach flip. At the registration desk, my son must have noticed my reaction because he asked me if I was okay. I composed myself and said yes. I felt silly for being the one affected. I mean he is the one with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I am just the mom.

As we were sitting in the examination room waiting on the doctor, my mind raced back to all the times I had taken him to the doctor's office. I remembered his first visit at two weeks old. The doctor laughed that his blue eyes were going to be hard to say no to. The trip to get stitches when he was 2. He fell at the daycare on my first day back at work after maternity leave. I viewed that as a sign I needed to be a stay-at home mom. The day before 1st grade when he fell and broke his wrist after his little brother dared him to stand on top of something. Most times, the visits were for nothing. Today, it was for something really big.

The doctor came in and explained in detail what would be happening during the course of treatment. He kept assuring us that this is very treatable and the survivor rate is exceedingly high. He asked about his health history. I relayed everything and commented that "he was always healthy". The doctor looked at me and said "he still is". At that moment, I felt intense gratitude to the man I had just met.

In two weeks, we will start a new journey on the detour. That is when the treatments start. We are both glad it has come to the point where the enemy has been identified and will be battled. My son decided he will dye his hair a wild color right before the treatments. It was a suggestion from two of his female friends. They will join him in this adventure. They figure if he has to lose his hair, it might as well be colorful.

Last year when my son was getting ready to head off for college, I pulled out one of his favorite books from his childhood. It was "Oh, The Places You'll Go". The sentiment seemed so perfect for that time in his life. This afternoon, sitting in the doctor's office, my mind wandered back to the book. Again, the sentiment seemed perfect to me. Oh, The Places You'll Go....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


My life got hit with a huge detour yesterday. We learned our incredible 19 year old son has lymphoma. The news was like a kick in the stomach. I knew we could get bad news but never expected it. Always the optimist.

My son handled it with such grace. He looked at me after telling me the news (the doctor called at 8am), and said he had done his research and knew the survivor rate was incredibly high. I told him it better be.

He spent the day organizing his life - telling the important people in his life the news. He said he wanted them to know from him, not some rumor. His extraordinary friends handled it as I had expected, with jokes and plans. They are already talking remission parties, schedules to take him to treatment, and hat shopping should he lose his hair. The new people in his circle, the college friends - have offered up medical contacts/experts and a willingness to do anything needed. I watched in awe as he was calm and upbeat with each and every one, making sure they were okay.

I, too, contacted family and friends to share our news. The outpouring of support was overwhelming.

My son and I share the same sense of humor. We kept finding things to laugh about yesterday. I am sure it was our way of staying sane. I would tell him about some of the reactions I was getting and laughed that I should make a list. So that got me thinking that maybe the blog would be a good forum for me. So from time to time, I will post on our journey through the detour.

For now, some advice should you know someone who might be experiencing what we are.

1) Tell them about people who survived, not died. I wish I had a dollar yesterday for the stories I heard about such and such and their illness. None of them were what my son had, and they all ended with "they died". It actually got to be funny to me. I know they were trying to be comforting but that is not the way to do it.

2) Telling people is exhausting. Don't take up lots of their time. I told people we will keep everyone informed via email. Today, I fielded lots of calls from people wanting to know what was going on. I replied that they will find out via email.

3) Nothing, and I mean nothing prepares you for dealing with your child in this situation. My mother died from breast cancer so I have been closely affected by a serious illness. This is a whole other beast. Respect that.

4) Life goes on. There is still a job, family, meals to cook and laundry to do. Plus a wedding to host. I was adamant yesterday that my son will not be thought of as sick first. And yes, he has lymphoma but he still needs to clean his room.

5) Look at your friends and relatives as a network. Through our network, we have medical resources at some of the finest institutions in the world plus the CDC. It was comforting to sit down and figure out that this person knows this, and this person knows that. And use them. They want to help and hope you ask.

I found this quote yesterday. I wrote it out and said it shall be our motto during this trip. It reads, "Hope is the companion of power, and mother of success; for who so hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles.” Yep, ever the optimist.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birds' Nests

I have a thing for birds' nests. I think of them as little pieces of art. I love discovering them around the farm. On a walk, I found one knocked down by the wind. It was so gorgeous, it now resides under a cloche in my dining room.

This year has been a big year for nests There is one inside the front porch of our house. My two cats are memorized watching the mother bird sit on the nest. They sit and watch for hours, their bodies twitching when the bird moves. I wonder what they will do when the babies hatch?

There is another nest in the pear tree in my kitchen garden. The robin keeps tabs on me when I am out planting. Another nest is located inside an old mailbox that I have in the garden. The box was to hold my hand tools so they would be easy to access but several years ago, a bird moved in in the spring and nests have appeared yearly since. That nest makes me laugh.

The eaves of the barn are also filled with nests. It looks like an airport with all the birds coming and going.

I have had to wait on pruning the wild rose bushes in our lower field since they, too are filled with nests. Hopefully the nests will be vacated by the time I need to get things ready for the wedding we are hosting this summer.

My favorite nest is located in a lilac. Since I adore lilacs, I can only imagine the joy of being surrounded with that aroma.

All of these nests provided some inspiration for me. This is my newest addition to my shop. I was happy with how it turned out.

I look forward to hearing the chirps from the nests and watching flying lessons. There is nothing better than springtime on the farm.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Love Affair

Besides my family and friends, there are few things I love as much as baseball.

My love affair goes back to my youth. Both of my parents enjoyed the game and they passed that on to me. I grew up playing basball almost nightly in the neighbor's empty field. My dad would talk box scores at the dinner table and my mother knew how to keep score.

Fast forward to the 1990s, and my beloved Cleveland Indians were actually good. The best birthday present I ever received was on October 17, 1995 when the Indians clinched the first pennant of my lifetime.

I passed on my love affair to my sons. I would often play catch with them as my father had done with me. Our lower field was the scene for pickup up games and I was enlisted to pitch. I relished that many of their friends thought I threw too hard.

After a long winter, I look forward to baseball. The sounds of the game bring back lots of memories for me. I can see my mom keeping score while listening to games on the radio and the pickup games that filled my summer days as a kid. I can see my dad playing catch with me in the backyard and my sons playing little league. So many memories...

This year, my beloved Indians are starting off the baseball season with a bang. They are ending the month of April tied with the Phillies for the best record in baseabll. They are 4.5 game in the lead of AL Central. They have never been this good, this early. Of course, I am glued to every game. Good thing my husband puts up with this.

There's only 136 more games left in the season. I hope I am having as much fun at the end of the season as I am right now. Go Tribe!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We're Having a Wedding

We are having a wedding. And what a wedding it shall be. Colorful...unusual...a day to remember for sure.

The groom is a dear friend. He and my husband go back to college days. He is fondly known by many who attended our wedding as "The Drunk". In his defense, he had traveled a total of 24 hours to get to our wedding. He was studying in Israel and was terribly jet lagged. To our two sons, he is their crazy uncle. To him, we are family. Every 4th of July he is here to celebrate at the farm and is a friendly face at the table at Thanksgiving.
The bride is new to the family. We first met her during the trek here for the 4th of July. Our friend called to say he wanted to bring someone home to meet the family. We knew this was big since he had never brought someone with him before. We loved her the minute we met her and warned our friend that he better not screw this up. He popped the question when they were here for Thanksgiving. It was then that he asked if he could have the wedding here.

The wedding is going to be unique. Held in a clearing on our property that overlooks the river. It will be during July 4th weekend which seems only right. The ceremony is being conducted by our eldest son who happens to be an online minister. He and several friends did it as a joke last summer. The bride and groom thought he would do a wonderful job since he is a literary geek. Doing some checking, they learned that if he submitted some paperwork to the state, he could legally do the ceremony. So papers have been filled and the kid can now legally do weddings, funerals and baptisms. He laughed that the perfect thing to add to the ceremony is the quote from the movie "The Princess Bride" - "Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us together today. Wove, twue wove...So tweasure your woves forever". He'll probably sneak it in during the rehearsal knowing him.

The bride will be wearing a traditional dress while the groom and groomsmen are in kilts. Kilts? Why, I don't know. The groom is Jewish but did attend a college known as the Fighting Scots. My husband is a groomsmen so he's surfing the internet looking for a kilt. The image of him in a kilt is hard to wrap my head around. I laugh that we both have to find skirts for the day.

The youngest son will be handling the music. He is already trying to figure out what he'll play.

And me. I will be spending the next few months making sure the property and gardens are ready for their big day. And probably trying to figure out how not to laugh out loud when I spot hubby in his kilt or listening to eldest play a key role in bringing two people together for the rest of their lives. Yep,it is going to be some day.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Always a Critic

Living with nothing but males, poses problems at times. It is hard to get a true critique of a project I am working on. Most times, they answer with "It's fine." Fine? Fine to me means it is okay - not bad, not good. Not quite what I am striving for. And for the record, another one of their phrases that drives me crazy - "It wasn't bad" - when describing food. Do you really want to eat something described as "wasn't bad"? If it was good, it would have be stated as such. I digress....

The other day, I was working on a new necklace design. I was tickled with how it had turned out. I showed it to my husband and youngest son. My husband said, "It's fine" and my youngest, looked at it for a bit and then commented, "I can see an elderly person wearing that". What?????? I asked for a clarification on his statement and he said "You know, someone around 55." So apparently I am going to be elderly in a few years. Fine.

I chuckled about the comments on the necklace all evening. Shared the story with my Cleveland Handmade friends so they could have a laugh, too. Youngest even inquired if I had shared his comments with my "artsy" friends. He knows me too well.

Yesterday, a young woman came by the house to pick up a necklace I had made for her wedding. She spotted the "geriatric" necklace and asked if she could try it on. She put it on and decided she had to have it. It did look stunning on her. As she walked out the door, she walked past the youngest. He spotted the necklace and just rolled his eyes. I smiled at him and inside, I screamed YES!

It is indeed the little things in life.

Please note - the picture shown is not the "geriatric" necklace. I had not taken a picture of it yet. This necklace fits my Spring Fever mood today.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Inspiration Series - Part 19

One of the wonderful things about running my own business is the people I encounter along the way. Since my business is online, my dealings tend to be the same way but I still feel like there is a relationship. I have gotten to know certain things about my customers. One of my customers that I have been lucky to know shares my love of baseball. During the World Series, we would check in with each other. She was lucky. Her team was playing in it. (Takes a long sigh and thinks some day......) When I hear of weather issues in her part of the country, I wonder how she is. Other customers include you in special events. This past year, I was very lucky to design jewelry for quite a few brides. Their joy and excitement is contagious, and it is a wonderful feeling to think you have made something for their special day.

Today's artist, Marilee Jones, is another one of those people I have been lucky to encounter. She bought a bracelet from me and wrote an incredible note telling me how happy she was with it. The note gets looked at from time to time when I need a boost. Another note from her is tacked up on my inspiration wall. It is a photo of a barn. Having my own barn, I have a thing for barns. I learned she took the photo. We "chatted" back and forth about her love of photography and she mentioned she was going to open up a shop to sell her work. I thought Marilee would be perfect to include in my inspiration series. So I asked her the question -
"What Inspires You?"

1. Color
My earliest memories of creative inspiration start with a box of 64 Crayola Crayons and a fresh pad of thick, white drawing paper. The possibilities were endless; the day's result limited only by my imagination. From even before I started kindergarten, I loved color (the brighter, the better) for all its beauty and potential. I've always been sensitive to even subtle differences between shades, and have derived great pleasure from the utter rainbow around us every day. Sometimes the best color combinations I might see in a day bolt by too quickly before I can adequately appreciate them.

2. Shapes
When I come upon a scene with potential, I try to find the most interesting intersection of shapes I can, which is usually found by looking anywhere but eye-level. Sometimes a tangle of branches will catch my eye; other times, I look for a more wide open scene.

3. Imagining The Vantage Point of Iconic Artists
My interest in art of almost all varieties has been lifelong. (After taking art classes all through school, I finished a fine arts minor in college). Sometimes, if a scene I'd like to photograph reminds me of an iconic artist, I'll imagine things such as: "If Georgia O'Keefe were to photograph this poppy, what would her finished image look like?" Or,"How would a Jackson Pollock painting of these tangled branches reveal itself?" This artistic "vocabulary" keeps expanding my creative horizons, as if I am not always looking at a scene using my own eye.

4. Vermont's Unique Beauty
Although I was not born in Vermont, coming to live here at age three quickly affected my very spirit. It's hard to separate out whether it's the quality of life, incredible physical surroundings, historic buildings, rustic barns, the almost euphoric feeling of spring's arrival after another harsh winter, or the deep childhood attachments to people and places that contribute most to Vermont's undeniable influence on my creative and photo choices. Every time I've ever moved away, I've come back. There's something here I've never found anywhere else.

5. Great Design
Beautiful lines (in just about anything)always inspire me. I love my mother's antique Shaker furniture, or a Vermont round barn for its practical simplicity, for example, but also enjoy jewelry and clothing that mash up traditional with a bit funky and rock and roll. Traditional or modern, I see almost everything as a series of lines and shapes. I enjoy the pure graphics of a scene as much as something that looks like it came out of Vermont Life Magazine. What actually ends up being photographed depends on the day, my outlook, and what I'm trying to express.

6. Friends, Family, Animals, Nature,and People Watching in General
Other people, animals, and nature bring me such great joy. I am almost constantly inspired by those with whom I interact each day. I might see a sunflower Jennifer would love, or an autumn leaf seemingly made for JoAnn, or a shade of blue perfect for Annie. Even strangers on the street can inspire an idea!

To me, inspiration requires only an open mind and keen observation. Inspiration can come from any number of potential sources at any time. Isn't that the true beauty of it all?

I chuckled when I read Marilee's comment about the crayon box. That, too, has been a great inspiration for me. My mother always said to make sure my life had lots of people who appreciated the box of 64 crayons. I understand what she meant.

Thanks so much for sharing Marilee! You can find Marilee's wonderful photographs at

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I love a new year. There are 365 days full of potential. That is such an inspiring thought but of course, it probably will not all be productive or for that matter good. But a girl can dream.

Dream is what I do best in January. I am forced inside because of the winter weather so I gaze out the windows and dream. Dream about what the gardens will look like in spring and new gardens and flowers to plant. I also dream up ideas of structures that my husband and sons can build for the gardens.

The last few days, I have been gazing out at our barn. I love the look of it in winter. In the summer, there are flowers that draw your attention first. In winter, the old girl (raised in 1817) stands regally on her own, behind the house. She serves as the clubhouse for my sons and their friends. When the college students return for breaks, the barn is the first place they visit.

The barn will be getting some much needed sprucing this spring. She will serve as the back-up location for a friend's wedding. If the sun is shining, they will be married by the gardens but me being me, and always wanting to prepare for something to go wrong (with the idea that if I am prepared, it won't), the barn will be ready to stand in.

As I look at the barn, I can't help but think about what will happen after the kids have all scattered. I have been dreaming that a studio might be nice......

The picture of the barn's windows was taken by a dear friend of ours, Geoff Baker. You can view Geoff's wonderful photographs at