Sunday, October 27, 2013

Aunt Virgie's Jewels

    Aunt Virgie, my father's sister, was my favorite aunt.    She was fun to be around and, since she lived out of state, her yearly visits were always a special treat.   
     As the years rolled by, I grew up and the family changed.   My father, my grandfather, and my uncle all died.    When Aunt Virgie came to visit, she stayed with my mother.   
    In 2004 Aunt Virgie gave me an envelope that had broken beads in it and a note.   She wrote that the crystal necklace and bracelet had been given to her in 1950 by her church friends when she and my uncle moved to Chattanooga so he could attend school.   They knew they weren't going to return to Ohio.  They later moved to New Orleans and made that city their home.   At some point the necklace broke, but she kept it because it reminded her of her friends.
     I'm not sure why Aunt Virgie gave it to me.   I didn't make jewelry back then, and I didn't wear fancy crystals.   But, like my aunt, I kept the beads and the note because it reminded me of her.    When I moved to Arizona, I brought the broken jewelry and her note with me.

     Last Friday I took a workshop on how to make a crystal pendant.   I wasn't very happy with the one I made in class, and I thought I would try again at home.   That's when I remembered Aunt Virgie's broken jewelry.    I found the envelope with the beads and the note.
     I had to modify the pendant a bit in order to make it work with her crystals.    The workshop used 11/0 Delica seed beads in between the crystals and to form a bail.  But when I tried to use them, they were too small for Aunt Virgie's crystals.  The seed beads kept going inside the large crystals.  Their pretty effect was lost. 
     I tried Toho #6 gold beads, and they worked better.   Then I tired gold Czech glass, and I liked that look best of all.       

   The workshop used all 6mm bicones, but Aunt Virgie's jewels were larger.  They were also in graduated sizes because they had come from one of the broken necklace strands.   I used larger ones on the bottom of the pendant and smaller ones near the top.  I used the smallest ones for the earrings.    I added gold filled ear wires and a gold chain that I had been saving.   The beads have a new look, but they are still Aunt Virgie's jewels.  
     Next week we're going to a music show entitled "Sentimental Journey".   I plan to wear my new/old jewelry there.   I think Aunt Virgie would approve.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Golden Friends

    Last week we had a special treat when Ohio friends Larry & Connie came to visit us for a few days.   Larry had been a chemistry major with Kent.  He retired earlier this year, and they were planning a trip to the national parks to celebrate.    Unfortunately the government shut down ruined their park trip.  
      They decided to come west anyway since we had been planning this long overdue visit for months.  We were glad they did.  It was great to see them again.   We picked up the friendship as if it had only been a few months, not 30+ years, since we had been together.   Golden friends are like that.
     We took them to the Desert Botanical Gardens, one of my favorite places in Phoenix.   They had never seen so many cacti.   I remember thinking that, too, the first time I visited there.    

     We had lunch on the patio at Gertrudes at the Desert Botanical Gardens.   Yummy as always. 
     The butterfly pavilion was filled with Monarchs, too.
      Another day we went hiking in the White Tanks.   This county park doesn't compare to a national park, but it is beautiful in its own desert way.   Unfortunately there weren't any plants in bloom this time of year.   

We took the Black Loop trail, an easy and popular trail.   

      They visited other great Arizona sites--Sedona, Jerome, Tombstone--and we had lots of grilling out on the patio time.   We've already made plans to visit their lake house in Ohio.  
      And we're not going to wait 30 years to do it!


Saturday, October 5, 2013


     The newest visitors to the neighborhood have been javelina.   I haven't seen them here, but our neighbor, Irene, saw two in her yard.     
      Here's what a typical javelina looks like:


       Although they look like a small pig, they're from the peccary family.    Fish and Game has info on them here:  
       He's not a beauty, that's for sure.   This pix came from a Tucson newspaper since none of us have been able to photograph one.  
       I saw a small herd a few times while I was driving through the Aquila area, which didn't surprise me.   It is very rural out that way.   Having them here inside Grand surprised me.  
       When we were walking last night, we passed a couple who said they had just seen one crossing the street.   We kept a look-out, but we never saw any.   
        We know they've been to our yard, though, because they knocked pads off of the Indian Fig cactus and ate bites out of it.  

     I love the wildlife here, especially the coyotes and roadrunners.   But the javelina can keep on traveling as far as I'm concerned.