Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Liz and Tricia's Great Adventure 1981

In the spring of 1981, a co-worker of mine asked me if I would take a trip to Germany with her that summer.  Her sister was stationed with the US Army outside of Darmstadt.  I don’t think it took much convincing for me to say yes.  Little did I realize this would be the beginning of a life-long love to travel.

My family had always gone on a “summer vacation” – camping our way to such places as Florida, North Dakota (my grandmother lived in Fargo and we stayed in Minnesota, just across the border), the north shore of Lake Superior in Ontario, Canada and Yellowstone.  Thinking back on these trips, while they were a lot of fun, they were also educational.  Dad taught us how to swim, fish, and look at the constellations in the stars, taught us about plants, animals, driving, campfires and more.

Trish and I were co-workers, we’d been out a couple of times, but this was the beginning of a great adventure.  I only had 2 weeks of paid vacation and took one week of unpaid time off.  This was a big deal.  

My mother found through adult education offered in Dearborn Heights a beginning German course that she and I signed up for.  It was fun to do something like that, and we did go to a German restaurant in the area.   I don’t know that I learned much, but it did put the language in my ear.

Trish and I thought we would save some money by joining the Youth Hostel society, we became members so that our lodging costs would be decreased.   We decided that we could rent a car, but most of the cars were a standard transmission (automatic transmission rentals were very expensive).  We didn’t know how to drive a stick shift!  My older brother helped us with that, he taught us on a Dodge Omni how to use a stick shift.  We went to AAA and received our international drivers’ licenses.  We made our reservations and away we went.

We found travel books about Germany, the AAA was a great resource for us.  We plotted and mapped, made decisions and settled on a basic plan of what we wanted.

I had only flown once before this trip.  My grandmother was in a Fargo nursing home and we flew there over Easter break.  I remember that my mother dressed the siblings in our dress clothes and it was very exciting.  I think that I was about 11 or 12 at this time.

This trip had our plane landing in London – and it was a very hard landing.  Many of the oxygen masks popped out of their overhead containers and scared the crap out of me.  The pilot did come on the in-cabin radio and apologized for the hard landing.  Whew, nothing was wrong.  Our next landing had a different shock for me.  Police.  Not just police, but police with machine guns.  Sure, I am a Detroit girl but I never saw police with machine guns.

We stayed a couple of nights with Tricia’s sister and her husband in a small village, Wolfskehlen which is just outside of Darmstadt.  As we wandered through this small village, we were greeted by the people we passed on our walks.  “Guten morgen (morning)”, “tag” (day), and “abend (evening)” became very familiar to us as we walked around.  In the Detroit area, people didn’t talk to strangers on the street – you just didn’t do that.  It was hard the first few times to answer back, but slowly became more natural.  The people on the street actually made eye contact and acknowledged that you were there.  Inconceivable!

Then we started our travels.  To Burg Frankenstein to Strabourg to Austria and Switzerland to Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Munchen and Dachau.  We saw castles, churches, cathedrals, walled cities, wild boar, and frog crossings.  We ate in cafes, gasthaus, bought food to go at bakeries.  We used our menu finder to try different things.  I mistook schinken for schnecken and learned that I loved snails in garlic and butter.  I drank different beer and wine, tried Spezi and love it (still do!). 

Why this long trip down memory lane?
Because on this trip, I bought a pair of shoes.  I loved these shoes.  They were a white clog with a wood base made by the Danish company, Ecco.  I loved these shoes from the minute that I put them on.  I wore them until they couldn’t be worn any longer.  They were an extension of my feet.

Recently, I purchased a pair of Sanita clogs with a wooden base.  And they make the same noise when I walk in them.  The exact same noise.  And the noise took me back to 1981.  And I thought about Trisha and my great adventure.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Year so Far

2016 has been a different kind of year.  Full of political innuendos and campaign truths and lies (and sadly, the average voters just don’t make the time to figure out what is the truth).  This sparked my Facebook post on September 1st:

Political rant: We all know that to some degree, politicians have their own agenda and are looking out for their own interests. ALL politicians. It's up to us, as informed voters, to figure out who is going to be less harmful to us, our town, state and our country.

You are not a Republican or Democrat because Mom or Dad were one. Make an informed decision as to where you are in the big picture.

Your homework for the time between now and Election Day is going to be to find this out. 
Not just watching the mud-slinging commercials on the television. Go to web sites, read, and investigate.  And to watch this movie: (

Play close attention to the character that Andy Griffith plays. Watch the things that he says and does as the movie progresses. Pay attention to any parallels that you see.

Then vote in November, an informed, honest vote.  Rant over.
I’ve been voting since I was 18 years old and 9 presidential election.  One of the first things that I remember hearing about voting is my mothers’ voice “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain” and I have voted in all the presidential elections since then.  I have voted in most of the primaries.  Do you know how many people don’t bother with the local elections – these are the people that will make the most difference in your lives. 

Look up the word dilemma in the dictionary:  “a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones” is one of the definitions that I found in my search.  A grade school teacher once said that a dilemma is a “decision between two evils” and I like that definition.  Because we know that all politicians have their own agenda – it’s searching for the “evil” that is going to be best for each of us.

It’s up to all of us to make a sound political decision based on what is important to each of us; based on the candidates personal experiences, their expertise in their field, their ability to surround themselves with experts that know what is important in their field of expertise.  Not what the information/entertainment channels deem is important in their eyes.  This needs to be important to YOU.

I am not going to tell you who to vote for, it’s actually none of my business.  But I am going to ask that you really make certain that you know why you are voting for your candidate and that you know that your candidate can successfully complete the job before you mark your ballot.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Tintern Abbey AKA Abbey Rose Pendant

About this time last year, I designed a small pendant with 8mm Chatons and metal round beads.  The pendant turned out pretty wonderful (even if I do say so myself).  I made a couple of versions and wrote up the instructions.  I taught Tintern Abbey locally several times, and beaders really seemed to like it.

I took the instructions to the Bead&Button show to sell.   While there, it caught the eye of one of the editors of Kalmbach Publishing, who encouraged me to submit the piece for publication.  Yes, I have been published before:  I have had several works published in the Your Work section, one piece in the gallery of Amy Katz's "Seed Bead Chic" book and a couple of bead embroidery pieces in

Nicole Campanella's "Flatwork".    In the interim, it was also time to submit for the 2016 Bead&Button show, and I submitted the pendant for a possible class.

To my surprise, it was accepted for both!  The Abbey Rose (the name was changed at the magazine level) was published in the February 2016 Bead&Button Magazine – my first pattern to be published.  Perhaps the magazine editors and show organizers didn’t realize this, but I have the go ahead to teach it at the show.

The class at B&B will be on Friday, June 10 from 5-8pm.  Class will be a great learning experience as we will also discuss how to join pieces to make a larger necklace, how to use different size chatons, and more.  Can you imagine a belt made of these?  It would be stunning (not on my waist).  Or a hat band?  A bracelet!  Great possibilities are out there!

Here are a couple pictures that were completed by others.  Thank you Sharon, Angela and Isabel for letting me use your picture.  Sharon used a different color bead and I think it really accentuates the shape of the design.  Isabel used slightly different sized chatons and made it work.  Angela's is made with 14mm crystals and is a stunning piece.

Made by Isabel Rowen
Made by Angela Bachelor
Made by Sharon Hessoun