Christmas is almost here!

And we're having spring like weather! Today is sunny, partly cloudy, and will be about 65. Amazing. Tomorrow Rick and I leave for northern Indiana to spend the holidays with my brother and his family (as pictured in the Thanksgiving post). They have over 2 feet of snow right now and are expecting more. Yes, I considered asking them to join us here at our place, but realized that our home for two would not accomodate 4 extra people and two really large dogs! LOL

I added a link to The Floating Cow - the shop that purchased some of my work. Any time you're in Madison, Indiana stop by and say hello!

I dropped off some earrings and am now free to look through my stash to take to northern Indiana. My sister-in-law will get to choose from some pretty cool stuff! I'll be taking my tools so I can make her a necklace, and my niece has some pieces that need fixing. So, I'll happily re-string these for her while her mom checks out the pearls, jade and real gold! I will try to take a photo to share!

After we return home I'll start on some new designs. I have an idea for bead embroidery that I just cannot wait to work on! All I can say is "Bride of Frankenstein - Gene Wilder style!"

Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Winter Solstice - whatever works for you!


Thanksgiving with family and fried turkey...

Oh yeah, the fried turkey was a fantabulous idea! First, Mike and Rick did the cooking of the bird - yippee! Tammy and I were truly delighted to spend 30 minutes cooking the side dishes of mashed potatoes (plenty of lumps, trust me!), cranberry relish, sweet corn and green bean casserole. While the fellas spent 1 hour getting the oil to the right temperature, then another 40 minutes watching the bird fry - while the temperature outside was a balmy 32F. Oh, and the snow was light! LOL Anyway, it was wonderful! I would recommend frying the turkey to anyone able to afford the oil. We used peanut oil (which is highly recommended by me and every cook out there) and 4 gallons ran me almost $40. Not an everyday meal, but for a special occasion it sure was worth it.

Mike in the kitchen, doesn't happen often! And the turkey in all its glory.

Tammy and the turkey in the kitchen....sorry Tammy, but it is a good shot of the turkey!

The destruction of the turkey took all of 10 minutes!

Mike finishing up the carving with a little help from Rick.

Kelly on Tammy's lap, thrilled to watch someone else do the turkey!


Some new stuff

So, I've been beading. Not many interesting things, if you ask me. But, they are new and they were ordered, so I finished them.
Here we have a pair of earrings, kind of sweet actually. I used silver lined orange beads and brown fire polished rounds. They work up quickly and look pretty good on. I made a larger pair, actually 4 more larger pair, in black for the shop in Madison, Indiana.

And this is a lariat. The color is off, I used brown and blue beads and finished the fringe off with bugles and fire polished brown rounds. Hmm, looks much better in person. I think I'll retake the photo and see what happens.


17 years and looking forward...

Oct 27, 1990 is our wedding date. I was 26, Rick was 32. Both of us were ready and looking forward to a long life together. Here are some pics from back then...oh yeah, Santa Claus was the best man!

Pam, Rick's niece, 16 yrs old, died the following March in an auto accident. Erin, good friend of mine from Jeffersonville, Indiana. Laura, me, Rick. Leonard, aka Santa Claus, my brother Dan and my brother Mike.
Laura was my best friend in Hanover, Indiana. Though I lived there for only a year during junior high, our friendship lasted longer than any other I had during my 'growing up' years. So I asked her to be my matron of honor.
Leonard, aka Santa Claus, was a good friend of Rick's. We joined him and his wife on a trip to Talledegha to watch NASCAR up front and personal! It was wonderful. Leonard and Rick still keep in touch. Leonard and his wife Lorie live in Elizabethtown, KY now.



If an expectation is not clearly defined, how can you not meet it?

I was asked to leave my job on Friday because I didn't meet his expectations. I didn't know what they were, and am baffled at how I couldn't meet them. Hmmm. Most management positions include a clearly defined job description, expected actions and results, and measurable progress indicators. Not this one. It's been quite an experience. One I've learned a lot from. And, the break up was quite respectful and amicable. They won't be replacing me soon because they really don't know what they want out of the position. Considering I'm the third in as many years, I'm glad they'll be taking some time rather than throwing someone else in right away. The people hurt by this will be the team of 6 in the office. They'll have to deal with no direction, no training, no support.

In the meantime, I now have more time for finishing that beading order for The Floating Cow!

Oh yeah, if you know of any project/contract/short term jobs I can participate in or manage, just give me a jingle - my primary talents lay in project management, data analysis/management, customer service.


The Floating Cow

and other beautiful things! That is the name of a new gift shop opening December 1, 2007 in Madison, Indiana.

Why does this warrant a spot on my blog? Well, mainly because the owners purchased 2/3 of my current inventory to re-sell in their store! Yepper, I'm not kidding.

Marni, Ann and Ann are the owners. Three wonderfully wacky and generous women from the Madision area. They're going to be awesome business owners because every piece they reviewed was with the customer in mind. You can't go wrong when that is your focus!

So, opening day is December 1. I'm planning to be there for support and for information. I'll gladly tell anyone who asks about my beadwork and techniques.

In the meantime, I'm making additional pieces for the store, trying to finish up a few designs I've left hanging, and looking forward to being creatively free! Amazing how much of a charge this has given me.


Gallery Update

So, Katherine and I meet up on Saturday afternoon and chat before going to the gallery. I knew better than to go by myself, my mouth was liable to get me into some real trouble! Actually, Rick told me that I would be better off going with another person. He knows me too well :)

Anyway, I get to the gallery and see that all is well. The only thing he's done is move some items around to better display them. I didn't see any additional artwork interfering with my pieces, or Katherine's for that matter. Got myself all worked up for nothin'!

So, I joined Katherine and David for dinner and talked with Katherine about her misgivings and misunderstanding of the whole 'moving my stuff' around. Once we got things settled, we both agreed we did not like the way he does business and won't be doing business with him again. In the meantime, I'm going to participate in a professional photo shoot on Wednesday. Free. Yepper, I said free. Katherine's photographer is offering his services to us. What all this really means is that new photos will be in my flickr album later this week!


Opening Night - Great! The Rest - Not so Great

Well, despite rain, hail, possible tornado and high winds...opening night was a success for me! I sold a few pieces, met some interesting people, shmoozed about and overall enjoyed myself. Downers: starting two days before opening day...the owner cannot locate my box of price tags. Then he says he will go out and purchase some, then using my price/inventory list will tag my items. Opening night...he didn't do this - instead he used MY business cards, marked a price and inventory number and haphazardly placed them on a few items. Then, coming back to clean up on Saturday morning and finding all my bottles of water and extra cookies gone. Then, being asked if parts of my display is for sale - "everything in here is for sale"- he says. NOT!!!!

This guy is costing me way too much money. I'm out business cards, jewelry tags, some jewelry boxes, 20 bottles of water, about $15 worth of cookies. In addition, days before the show he tells me and Katherine that we're responsible for advertising and marketing! Yepper, he hasn't dropped one dime.

I'm not impressed.

As for the rest of the days...not so great. Seems he is not that interested in presenting/selling my things, or Katherine's for that matter. Instead, on a pretty regular basis (read daily) he's taken liberties with our displays, has moved our items about the room, has recently moved our items OUT OF THE WAY to be able to display someone else's art. Pretty gosh darn rude and unprofessional.

So, because I committed to showing my things until September 13, and I helped pay for advertising and marketing, I'll be keeping a few things there. Tomorrow, though, I'm stopping in to pick up a lot of my things. I'm having a hard time trusting this guy.

In other news today...

I'm researching a new business. Something I can do out of the house. I attended a networking lunch of local business owners and picked their brains about the usefulness of the service I'd be offering and got really positive feedback. I'll be attending additional networking meetings and asking the same questions...while at the same time I'm in the middle of researching the business/company itself. I hope to make a final decision as to whether or not I'll do this by end of September...when we've returned from Michigan :)

Until then...keep smiling, it makes people wonder what you're up to!


It's Official-Press Release and Flyers Are Out!

"Pearls and Beads and Bling! Oh My!"
Jewelry by Katherine Autin, Michael Skrentny and Charlene Burke; paintings by Carol McLeod.
Chez Moi Art Gallery, 974 Barret Ave. Reception: 6-9 p.m. Thursday. Ends Sept. 13. Hours: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.

WooHoo! Yepper, opening night is this Thursday and I'm half as ready as I should be. But, at least I have 40 pieces out and ready for someone to take home :)

I'm offering two classes this time. One will be Nikia Angel's Sparkly Wheel, a beginner class that all student should complete. Anyone who has taken this class really enjoys it. The second is my own design, Cuff bracelet with Loops. It's an intermediate class using flat Ndebele.

I'll update as the show continues. Please spread the word about the classes!


See me at Chez Moi!

Yessiree, I'm in a gallery, again :) Located on Barrett Ave in Louisville, Kentucky is a small grouping of row houses converted into galleries. My pieces are being shown in addition to Creations by Katrina - wonderfully designed pearl creations. And, in August, Katherine (aka Katrina) and I will be the primary exhibitors at the gallery! I've been asked to teach a few classes and possibly develop a bead presentation during the exhibition. Goodness, I am certainly going to be busy beading in preparation! The main pieces I currently have in the gallery are Derby Flower pins/brooches and horse earrings. Hey, it's Kentucky...it's Derby time...what else am I gonna do! LOL


Love butterflies and Spring!

This is a butterfly I originally beaded about 2 years ago. It sold for $55 at a show I did in the Louisville, KY area.
I used the same pattern and color scheme to make a brooch/pin for a very good friend of mine, Mary. She gave me my business name "By Char", in addition to having been the first to purchase my work :) So, as a Christmas gift, I gave her this butterfly as a pin. She absolutely loves it!
Spring is right around the corner...oh my goodness, am I ready to do another butterfly!


Memorial Service

So, we had a memorial service for Gwen. I'd say all went well. There were over 60 people in attendance and I was asked to do the eulogy - followed by another person who reflected on his experiences with Gwen. The service lasted about an hour, followed by food and fellowship. Everyone was encouraged to share their memories of Gwen with each other, so there was lots of chatter, laughter, tears and remembering. I'm really glad I participated in doing this. So are lots of other people...as evidenced by their gratitude to me and the others who planned this service.


Privacy? An unknown in this day and age

So, the other day Rick walks in the house and says "hey, we have wireless phones, don't we?". Hmm, well, yes, we have a single cordless phone and have two cell phones. This is why he asks:

He's at the end of the driveway, getting the mail, when an older gentleman (about 60ish) drives into the driveway and asks if he's Rick B. Rick says yes he is. The guy says "well, just wanted you to know that my wife and I have a scanner and we've been able to hear your phone conversations for the past few months." Whaaaaat!? "And, anyone in the vicinity with a scanner would be able to tune into your frequency". He knew our address because one of us had given it out on the phone.

How interesting. Rick and I determined that its the cordless phone, not the cell phones.

Honestly? I gave this about three minutes of thought and concern. Rick started to get upset, until I reminded him that we have very little privacy in this world. We could give up the convenience of a cordless phone (which we've had for 15 years). Or, we could shrug our shoulders and figure that someone out there is enjoying our lives as much as we are! LOL

We'll probably change phones. For now, though, we're content with knowing that we are not paranoid - the amount of privacy afforded to each family is getting smaller and smaller as each day passes.

*sigh* I'm in charge

Well now, here I sit trying to gather my thoughts because guess who's been made the 'main person' for Gwen's memorial? Yepper, me. I'll be welcoming people, introducing the chaplain and meditation, guiding the attendees. Hmmm. A bit nerve wracking as I've never done something like this before. Not scary though. Probably because its for Gwen and she always told me how great I did when speaking in public. Thank goodness for podiums! My knees never stop quivering when I present in public :)

This Saturday afternoon we'll gather at a local hall and spend a few hours remembering Gwen, consoling ourselves and her family. We'll have deli trays and coffee, a few candles, some flowers. But most importantly, we'll have gathered the various people that Gwen touched and who feel the need to share their experiences with each other.

Gwen touched each person differently. My perception of Gwen is one of a woman of dignity and compassion, a person who loved NASCAR (Jeff Gordon especially), motorcycles, eighteen wheel trucks and tending to her flowers. She was quick to speak her mind, held grudges forever (didn't speak to me and Rick for over a year because of a faux pas on our part), and was willing to open her mind to new ideas.

I hope to do her proud :)


No Funeral!

I'm so angry I could spit. It did NOT have to be this way. The family decided that there will be no funeral, no visitation, no memorial, no services for Gwen. Why? Lack of money. They went for immediate cremation. Knowing the hundreds of people that loved Gwen, personally knowing tens of people who loved Gwen, these two 'boys' of hers said that they could not afford to do anything to honor her. Before knowing they went for immediate cremation, I made a few phone calls. Ten of us offered a couple hundred dollars each and were ready to pay a funeral home for basic services. Nope...too late.

I know, they're grieving. I also know they're not the brightest bulbs in the world (Gwen's words). I also now have the privilege of knowing that her drug addict grandson, having lived with her these past few months, managed to be able to move out on his own (with his girlfriend) because Gwen's last home equity loan covered his expenses. PTHTHTHTOOEY! (big spit)

Goodness, combined with this sense of loss, getting a bit angry is putting me over the top!

So, we do have a plan. With or without the assistance of the family, a few of us were talking last night about renting a room and having our own memorial service/wake in Gwen's honor. Right now we're thinking of having three of us say some words and share some stories, then guiding the guests to do the same with each other. Combine that with a bit of food and I think we can at least feel like we honored her in public.

Whew, what a week.


Random thoughts about Gwen

Gwen died last night, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2007.

A strong personality, Gwen seemed set in her ways. But, having sat at her kitchen table many, many days and nights, I knew her to be a woman of dignity and great compassion. She was a strong believer in self-development as well. One of the many changes she wanted to make was to stop disliking and being afraid of black people :) In her late 60's, she realized that she was missing out on a lot of relationships and experiences because of her bigotry. She made a conscious decision to learn more about the black people in her town. Despite her fear, she attended functions where many black people were present...she stuck out her hand and introduced herself to black people she came in contact with. By the end of a year she called a few black people, men and women, her friend. Trust me, being able to watch this transformation was quite an eye opener for me.

Gwen welcomed many into her home, but had little tolerance for the beggar and loafer. If you were wanting to help yourself, she went out of her way to assist you. If all you wanted to do was whine, she'd offer you some cheese as she showed you the front door.

Coffee was always brewing. One time when Rick and I were visiting she started complaining about how expensive coffee was getting. On and on she went about the price of coffee. Rick and I were puzzled, mainly because coffee prices had remained constant for quite a while. We soon realized, though, that it wasn't the price of coffee that was getting to her, it was the fact that she had been having so many visitors that she was buying three times more than usual. On her fixed income, this made a large dent. And, she wasn't going to stop offering coffee, or complain about the number of visitors. That day Rick and I went to Kroger and purchased 5 cans of coffee, dropped it off at her house and put a stop to the worry :) Because really, what's the price of coffee compared to keeping Gwen's kitchen table available for the next person needing her guidance?

Milk and Pepsi, her favorite drinks during the summer. She would sometimes have a fresh 2 liter of Pepsi and a gallon of milk in her fridge, then wonder why she didn't have enough bread to make a full sandwich! She and I would just laugh, and I'd make a quick trip for some staples. Who am I to ask her to not treat herself to milk and Pepsi?

Gwen considered me one of the smartest people she knew. I would often get a phone call from her asking for the definition of a word or phrase, and then asked to put it into context for her. Sometimes it was a word from the Bible, a novel, or a word search puzzle. Didn't matter. I happily assisted in her endeavor to learn.

She was always concerned about losing her brain power. So, to keep the brain active she enrolled in a correspondence accounting course. She got through the first lesson with little difficulty, but approached me on the second lesson. She just didn't understand the terminology being used and was frustrated because she had been a bookkeeper for so many years, she thought she was losing her mind. I looked over the lesson and exclaimed "goodness Gwen, are you studying to be a CPA?" Of course she was startled and said absolutely not, she just wanted to work a bit with numbers - you know, keep the brain active. The course she had signed up for, accidentally, was the final course in a CPA study program. Yeah, she got a refund for that one :)

Gwen loved the big rigs and had a trucker friend that occasionally came through town and would pick her up and take her down the road for a few hours. Rick had a full sized pick up that she loved, but couldn't get into. So, being the carpenter he is, he made her some steps and away they would go! She also loved motorcyles and three wheeled bikes. Definitely a woman on the go.

Just a few thoughts that came out of the well of emotion I'm experiencing. Her loss will be felt throughout the cities of Louisville, KY and in Indiana throughout New Albany, Jeffersonville, and Clarksville. May she rest in peace.


In Memory of Gwen

Saying good-bye to a valued friend is one the saddest experiences I have ever had. I have known Gwen for about 25 years, and she was a big part of my life for a good 15 of those years.

Gwen is 83 years old and until a few months ago was in pretty good shape. Since November she's had a nagging back ache, but was able to go out at night and entertain visitors during the day. Last week she suffered a minor heart attack and was taken to the local hospital. After a few days and the standard battery of tests it was determined that she had stage 4 cancer in her spine and lungs. Rick and I got a phone call Sunday morning from her granddaughter saying she had cancer, but that she hadn't been told yet. We visited with Gwen Sunday morning for a few hours. It was obvious that she was ill. She had lost at least 50 lbs since the last time I saw her, and she had that 'cancer' look, if you know what I mean.

She was quick witted and up for a good visit, so the three of us talked and laughed and remembered for a few hours. Saying good bye was tough, because Rick and I could see that the chances were slim that she'd be leaving the hospital.

She hasn't passed on, yet. But with kidney failure occurring and not responding to stimuli this morning...chances are good she'll be leaving us today or tomorrow.

Pray for her, for her family and for those of us honored to be called her friend.


The art of looking sideways

is a book I received as a Christmas gift. And what a book it is! My husband has several nicknames for me, one of which is "johnny 5" (from the movie Short Circuit, because I required input on a regular schedule or I go nuts!). And this book provides enough input to keep me satisfied each evening. Reading a paragraph, viewing a drawing, contemplating a definition is very much like savoring a delightful dessert treat after a scrumptious meal.

The book is chaptered or sectioned by experiences, i.e. "culture", "dreaming", "automation"...to name a few.

From the section titled "ECONOMY" is a list of quotes that when read in the order written feels much like a poem. I will type the quote in bold italics and credit the owner in plain text. Enjoy.

Less is more Andrea del Arto by Browning
Less is only more
when more is no good Frank Lloyd Wright
Achieve more with less Norman Foster
Less is a bore Robert Venturi
Less is a snore Gianni Versace
For me more is more Gianfranco Ferre
Less is less Theo Crosby
More of less newspaper headline on a political appointment
Less is more - providing you
had more to begin with Rodney Kinsman
As you get older
less is always more Ivana Trump
More means worse Kingsley Amis
I'm for maximalism,
minimalism is very protestant Ettore Sottsass
More matter with less art William Shakespeare

Trust me, this book is way cool. So much so that I intend to share pieces of it with you as I blog about my beadwork and my life :)

No knowledge is useless Charlene

Lavendar and Yellow?

So here's a pendant I came up with that turned out better than I originally envisioned. I was staring at my delica collection and fondling some swarovski crystals when I realized that just because it's winter does NOT mean I can't bead something for spring! LOL So, using ceylon coated lavendar and yellow delicas, I brick stitched this pendant. The fringe includes 4mm Swarovski Jonquil bicones. I'm finishing up a twisted herringbone necklace and am considering doing some earrings with crystals to match :)


New beadwork

I finally got busy and finished a couple of things. As always, any and all comments are welcome!

This has turned out to be one of my favorite pieces. I used black and gold (22k) delicas, brick stitched and fringed the pendant and used twisted herringbone for the necklace. I finished it off with a vermeil clasp. I find myself wearing it with pretty much every mock turtleneck I own, regardless of the color. I get tons of compliments, so was inspired to produce another brick stitch pendant...see below :)

Now, I need help with finishing this one. I used chocolate brown delicas, silverlined copper and silverlined orange delicas. I'm up for any suggestions. Fringing is fine, though I'd really like to do something different. I'm thinking of possibly adding some dimension by attaching matching triangles in the fringe.

Nothing like a work in progress to keep my fingers itching!


Christmas was wonderful, of course!

And why shouldn't have been? Rick and I went to Warsaw and spent the holidays with Mom, my brother Mike, his wife Tammy and the two kids Eric and Kelly. Rick played Santa - was almost eaten by the dog outside! I felt good so was able to really enjoy spending time with Tammy and the kids :) Presents were wonderful, as always. Overall, we're very grateful to be a part of this family, to be able to enjoy each other and especially to want to be with everyone! I'm waiting for pics from both Mom and Mike...so as soon as they're here I'll post them.