Monday, January 27, 2014

Homemade Jewelry 2014 part 1

The last few days I have dived into my pearl and bead storage. Many I have bought myself and many are sent to me from LS. A few are picked up on my travels, in Bologna, Italy, in NY, USA and on local markets in Sweden and other countries. (I have some black Icelandic lava from the past summer trip, but it has not revealed itself yet, I don't know what I will make out of it.)

So, beads are made of clay/ceramics, shell, plastic, acrylic, wood, minerals and glass. These shown in the pictures are mostly glass, colored jade and colored magnesit (often called synthetic turquoise) and metal alloys.

 Turquoise-colored magnesite

 Citrine (?) earrings and painted (plastic) seashell
 Owls from NJ, US and Russian dolls from Stockholm
 Rose quartz and hematite
Sometimes my handmade jewelry have names. This one is called Blue China. Another one is called Gone fishing.....I´ll show it some other day.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Stamps of the Day: American Records

A few years ago the US Postal Service issued a series of 40 stamps highlighting the places, animals, and plants in the US that were the largest, loudest, tallest, deepest, fastest, oldest, etc., called Wonders of America.   They also made a puzzle featuring the stamps (in larger than natural size, of course), and it is one of our favorite puzzles here at home.  Tonight when I sat and looked through some of my stamp images to decide which one to pick to write about, I realized that it is actually amazing how many of these record places and organisms I have seen or been to after living in the US for nearly 20 years (yes, it has been that long, incredible).  

So, here it goes, the list of American records:
You can see these in Central Park these days, the peregrine falcons are back!  But one of the best observations I had was in Yellowstone National Park.
(FASTEST BIRD - Peregrine Falcon)
There is nothing like bumping along an old railroad track in the American west over vast sage brush areas (Colorado to be precise) after a vintage steam train and look out the window and see a couple of pronghorn staring at you.
Ancient ruins at the mesas in New Mexico, such as Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde, makes me wonder what kind of threats made people live like this - with the whole village only accessible by ladders.
Oh, Mississippi - I love the name of that river.  4 s's, and 4 i's and 2 p's.  And a single M, alone in the beginning.  The delta at its mouth might be as large as half of Sweden, or something like that. 
And New Orleans is of course set in the middle of it.
(LARGEST DELTA - Mississippi River delta)
Just a bit south of where we live, a few hours, is a giant bay along the Atlantic coast... the funny sounding Chesapeake Bay, once full of oysters, blue crabs and fish, but now overpolluted and overnutrified. It is still gorgeous, but it needs to get healthier again. 
(LARGEST ESTUARY - Chesapeake Bay)
Oh, the bullfrog's noises in the night wakes you up in the early mornings around here on the mountain... It is like a giant toad, fat and fleshy, and rather pompous in its behavior.
(LARGEST FROG - American Bullfrog)
Buffalo, bison, same thing.  I have only seen wild bison in Yellowstone, and there we saw them really close, actually too close for comfort when they suddenly changed direction and went straight in among the parked cars where we stood photographing them crossing the road.  I had to jump into the back of a minivan.  Nobody was hurt, but it gives you a lot of respect for these animals. 
(LARGEST LAND MAMMAL - American Bison)
Alligator meat is not bad.  It is lighter-colored than beef, a little fishy in texture, but not taste, more like chicken.  They can move fast too - I have seen 8-feet alligator lay still for 20 minutes and then be gone in 3 seconds with a giant splash down the bank to the water. Never trust a reptile :)
(LARGEST REPTILE - American Alligator)
I have only visited Rocky Mountains in bits and pieces, here and there.  New Mexico (oh Taos!), Colorado (wow, it was incredible), and up in Yellowstone, of course.  But this summer I think we will see the real thing when we visit Idaho and Boise.  This is something else than the Swedish mountains called 'fjällen'. A bit taller, steeper, fiercer, and younger. 
Speaking about mountains, the ones on the East Coast are the sister mountains to the Swedish mountains, same age, formed at the same geological time, and even if maybe taller in the US with the same feel of a bit worn-down, eroded landscapes, and with sequences of ridges and peaks blueing in the distance.  
(OLDEST MOUNTAINS - Appalachians)
In Hawaii, the mountains are so young they don't exist yet.  They are being formed, right now, tonight and tomorrow.  I have stood and looked at the spouting lava at the Kilauea crater in Hawaii, using binoculars since you weren't allowed very close.  Magic magma, lovely lava, and deadly.  
Here is a manmade record piece, which is something you see if you arrive in New York by boat from Europe - the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connects Staten Island with Brooklyn over the narrow sound (The Narrows) that leads into New York City.  They are starting to grow oysters again under the bridge.  In the past there were lots of oysters here, more than people could eat, but then they disappeared because of pollution.  Soon we might have New York oysters again! 
(LONGEST SPAN - Verrazano-Narrows Bridge)

No records without the most amazing geysers of Yellowstone.  When I was a kid I used to look in books at my grandfather's house, and he had a book on Yellowstone.  I couldn't imagine the hot water spouts, sulfuric ponds, or bubbling mud pits, but they fascinated me, and I hoped that one day I would be able to see this crazy place.  Geology in action, of the most severe kind.  Well, volcanos might be a bit more severe, but Yellowstone is actually a giant volcano, and it is about to erupt at some point... About ten years ago I got the opportunity to visit Yellowstone during a workshop, and it was as crazy a place as I had imagined, or worse.  It is like a place out of a movie.  Moose grazing grass next to hot water springs that are deadly.  Geysers spouting giant fountains of water and steam on schedule.  Day and night. Incredibly.  I need to go back! (My grandfather's Yellowstone book is now in my house too.)
(TALLEST GEYSER - Steamboat)
When we drove up on Mount Washington in New Hampshire in June or July, they still had snow on the top.  It is the windiest place in America, this curved tip of an Appalachian mountain, and it felt like it.  It reminded me of the Swedish mountains, except our mountains in Scandinavia doesn't have giant weather stations on them.
(WINDIEST PLACE - Mount Washington)
And finally, another manmade thing, and this one is of utter impracticality and uselessness.  It just exist because someone had an idea, made it happen, and now everybody comes to see it. (Brilliant tourist marketing!)  I have never been up in the Gateway Arch in St. Louis by the Mississippi, but I have seen it from a distance.  You can take a little elevator inside to go up to the top, but if you are claustrophobic and or afraid of heights it is better to stay on the ground and look up.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy Birthday, AREA!

Love and greetings from Sweden, and what could be more appropiate than a weaving poster.

This is for you


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year! 2014 is here.

I can't believe it.  I am not ready for this.  I need another couple of months in 2013 to do the things I wanted to do that year, and now it is 2014.  As usual it will take me a few months to start to write the right year on the checks when I pay bills, but otherwise, things are just the same :) 

I like that it snowed both on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve with big lovely thumbnail-sized snowflakes even if they don't last that long.  This morning we woke up to severe cold and it is supposed to get down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit tonight (that is -20 C for those that use the-rest-of-the-world temperature system :).   The cats seem OK outside, and they are getting pampered with hot water bottles, hot drinking water and plenty of treats and insulating blankets.  They don't care a bit about dates, only about morsels of 'Tempting Tuna Flavor' treats.

So, 2013.  It was a year without giant weather events and storms.  Thanks!  I feel we needed that after 2012 which was horrible weatherwise.  Superstorm Sandy, the snowstorm in October one week after Sandy, the spring rainstorm that felled lots of conifers, etc.  So 2013 was calmer, a bit hot of course in these days of global warming.  Lots of canned tomatoes and homemade hot sauce ('Molten Lava' was one of them), two wonderful and successful kids in college, I learned how to use natural dyes for dyeing silk, wool, and cotton, and insect collecting in cold November with my Dad and sister were some of the highlights. And hundreds of great dinners with fantastic homemade and local food, thanks PP!  So, 2013 was a good year.  On to 2014 now...

But, it is still The Year of the Snake in the Chinese Calendar, and their New Year happens in a few weeks. Here is a US stamp showcasing the Chinese new Year celebrations.  Happy New 2014!