Monday, May 25, 2009

Pepe le Pew, Where Are You?

The skunks have been breeding, and last night they arrived with three itty bitty babies. At one point all three were in the supper dish, squealing and munching. One ran off but the other two remained until every last Max Cat morsel was gone. They were swirling around like a moving Yin Yang symbol. It was a bit dark and I didn't want to get too close, so these pix are the best I could do.





Esmeralda is obsessed with the skunks. She isn’t allowed out front, where the Great Skunk Meetings occur. But if she hears one on the back yard, she must race down the hill, find it, and engage it in conversation.


She probably thinks it’s another of her cats.

She barks and barks and barks. She is deaf to all my calls. All that training and treats? Forget it. She’s busy with a skunk.

Last night she heard one and I dragged her back before she could engage. I put her in her pen for the night. This morning when I got up she wasn’t in her pen. She was somewhere down the hill, barking barking barking.

I called. I used my command voice. I held a treat. Nothing. Barkbarkbarkbarkbark.

I called some more. Refined the command voice.

Barkbarkbarkbarkbark. And finally a happy yip, and up she came. Skunked again, and pleased as could be.

She did not get her treat.

Here she is, after her bath.

Bath Time

Is it just me, or does she look very happy to you?

I have a theory that she loves the skunks and she loves getting sprayed, and she pretty much loves the bath spa treatment that follows her encounters.

But I’d prefer to not start my day with a quart of hydrogen peroxide with a baking soda Mrs. Meyers chaser.

I think I need a higher gate for her pen.

Paging Mr. Mistoffelees

TS Eliot wrote about tuxedo cats in The Song of the Jellicles. Mr. Mr. Mistoffelees is, in fact, a jellicle or tuxedo kitty - a furry fanfare of black and white.

I have two tuxedo cats: George and Gracie. They are siblings, rescue cats. When they were tiny, they looked identical. Now that they are grown, Gracie has short hair and weighs 9 pounds.

tuxedo cat

George has long hair and weights 17 pounds. (Yes, he's fat. And proud.)

tuxedo cat,jellicle cat

A while back, a neighbor's tuxedo cat went missing, and she put up posters for Lola's return. She was flooded with phone calls, but they were all George and Gracie sightings (or Little Moon face sightings.) While tuxedo cats have distinctive markings, to the untrained eye they simply look like black and white cats. Mustaches are a bonus.

Clearly these cats needed to be proudly displayed in Cornerstoregoddess jewelry. How could they not? I collected all sorts of tuxedo kitty bling for a bracelet, necklace, and earrings. I was a woman possessed.

But making all a necklace, bracelet, and earrings was not enough. Oh no.

I then paged through Mr. Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, by T.S. Eliot. I hummed tunes from Cats and started channeling Andrew Lloyd Weber.

I was compelled top make a slide show. With lyrics. And music.

The listing is here for the latest tuxedo cat jewelry:

And there’s a different tuxedo cat set in my etsy store, because I’ve been possessed and obsessed before:

And here’s the slide show… featuring George as Mr. Mistoffelees.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


After I finished the bats, I needed to play with colors, so I went for a dragonfly motif. Dragonflies have great colors, and I love the way they skim and buzz. I have a friend who, as a child, believed that dragonflies would sew her eyes shut, but I’ve never known any to do that.

There’s a dragonfly story that is often used to help people cope with death. But I see it as more of a story of transformation and growth.

This is a version I found online at

In the bottom of an old pond lived some grubs who could not understand why none of their groups ever came back after crawling up the stems of the lilies to the top of the water. They promised each other that the next one who was called to make the upward climb would return and tell what happened to him. Soon one of them felt an urgent impulse to seek the surface; he rested himself on the top of a lily pad and went through a glorious transformation, which made him a dragonfly with beautiful wings. In vain, he tried to keep his promise. Flying back and forth over the pond, he peered down at his friends below. Then he realized that even if they could see him they would not recognize such a radiant creature as one of their number.

The fact that we cannot see our friends or communicate with them after the transformation… is no proof that they cease to exist.

- Walter Dudley Cavert

So with visions of transformation whirling in my head, I made this bracelet, earrings, and a necklace playing with greens and purples and teals and aquas. There’s a lot of crystal in these pieces, as is only befitting dragonflies. None of these, btw, will sew your eyes shut. Really.






Things with Wings

The finches are breeding like crazy. How fast are they breeding? Well, while I was filling the water dish, some finches laid two eggs in their seed dish.

A couple of times a day, a too-small baby will end up on the bottom of the aviary. I then go in and pick up the hapless little thing (they look like little dinosaurs until they grow their feathers) and try to find a nest with babies of similar size and coloring. I sometimes succeed. I sometimes put them in the wrong nests, and often the parents in that nest will just take over the finch-rearing.

But it’s getting to be standing room only and I’ve been running an ad in the Recycler to find homes for some of the newer finch generation.


I’m putting a cap of 50 on how many I’ll sell at a time, and I’ve had many inquiries, and several people wanting 50 finches, as well as someone wanting 20, and someone wanting 10. Sounds promising, right? Well, so far the only one who actually showed up was a woman who had one pure white finch, but was unsure of its sex, and wanted some friends for him. Chris pre-caught a dozen all white finches (including some all-white males, which are rare). She brought him along and we sexed him. But when she saw all the colors, she decided she didn’t want all white finches. She wanted lots of variety, so they’d make all sorts of interesting babies.


The problem with our aviary is that there are just too many spectacular choices. They’re all very fast and they’re not all for sale. So she’d point to one she liked and poor Chris would have to try and catch that one. Of course, as soon as you move in the aviary all the finches swoosh off to another corner. The odds of catching (or even seeing) the finch being indicated are pretty slim.

By then end of the hour, he’d caught probably 50 different finches, of which she chose three.

Okay. So we still have finches in need of homes, and if I’m very nice Chris will catch some again.


That gave me the theme for this week’s charmed jewelry: things with wings.

There had to be something for my darker side, of course. I had some great bats carved of hematite, which is a healing stone with a lovely richness to it. I also had some black onyx nuggets I got when I was in Albuquerque, and the two just set each other off. So there’s a a necklace, bracelet, and earrings with bats.


bats, bats, bats

hematite bat necklace

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Goddesses, Spring, and Baby Finches

Yes. I admit it. I got a little airy-fairy this week. It was hard to resist. Spring was in the air. The finches were making babies like crazy.

baby finches

And I had a fistful of goddess charms, with the rose quartz and pink opal crying out to me. So I made a bracelet. It was fun, and chock full of goddess symbolism, what with the silver and the gemstones.




Then I made a necklace. I’m having a lot of fun with the necklaces because I get to use beads I don’t ordinarily get to use when I’m doing a wire-wrapped charm bracelet.



And, of course, I needed to make some goddess earrings.



(Yes, they're wearing sunscreen.)

I put them all up at eBay and am hoping the goddess protects me from ebay cranks, PayPal piranhas, and felonious phishers.

I think a little e.e. cummings may be called for, as well.

when god lets my body be

when god lets my body be

From each brave eye shall sprout a tree fruit that dangles therefrom

the purpled world will dance upon
Between my lips which did sing

a rose shall beget the spring
that maidens whom passion wastes

will lay between their little breasts
My strong fingers beneath the snow

Into strenuous birds shall go
my love walking in the grass

their wings will touch with her face
and all the while shall my heart be
With the bulge and nuzzle of the sea

e.e. cummings

Friday, May 8, 2009

Learning a Foreign Language at the ATM

Some days it doesn’t pay to get up in the morning. Literally. At least not in cash.

Went to weight class Thursday morning at 6:30 (with a sub teacher who thinks you can do lateral plank raises on one arm, the silly girl). After, I swung by the closest ShittiBank ATM. It’s up on Glenoaks in Burbank. The day was already warming up at a ferocious rate, and the sun was looking like the sun always looks in LA in Woody Allen films. Overly bright.

I pulled up in front of the building that houses the ATMS (and many years ago housed my office) and scooted down the steps in the vain hope of completing my transactions quickly. Visiting the ATM shouldn’t really be the focus of your day, I would think.

I put in my ATM card and realized I couldn’t really see the screen. The sun was shining right on it and it was coated with dust. So I squinted and turned my head at odd angles and, based on my familiarity with the ShittiBank ATMS, started my transaction pretty much blind. Which means that, after inputting my code, I had neglected to choose English as the preferred language for my transaction.


Now if I had chosen Spanish, I might have managed to amble along. Or German or French or Italian, not that those were options. But I had chosen either Vietnamese or some Chinese dialect, or possibly Armenian. (As I mentioned, it was hard to see.)

I tried to eliminate the dust problem by running my hand across the screen, but it’s a touch screen and that unleashed a horde of other options, also in the indecipherable language of (apparently) my choice.

I finally managed to deposit the check that had been moldering in my purse. But I needed cash back, and things were not looking good, and there was no way I was going to find the CASH key or read the cash options available.

I figured maybe the ATM next to it would be easier to see so I attempted to exit the ATM I was using. I hit every key to the far right I could find and hopefully did not transfer all my funds to ShittiBank CEO Kendall Stork’s personal account.


I then logged in to the 2nd ATM, which was marginally easier to see. Of course, by now the entire ShittiBank system was convinced I was a convicted felon on the loose with Eleanor’s ATM card because it wasn’t about to give me any cash, uh-uh, no way, forgettaboutit. It gave me a phone number to call and a numerical code to mention when I called. Of course, I could not actually see the code.

So I got in the car and drive home and fed the animals and made breakfast. Fortified, I called the number on the back of the ShittiBank card. Of course, that got me into their system where none of the options had anything to do with the fact that their ATM wouldn’t give me cash and I had probably been locked out of the system. (Imagine this! They didn’t even have an option for “The sun was shining on the ATM and the screen was filthy!”)

So I kept choosing options and hitting 0 until I finally got a (near) human. I told her my sad tale. She went to check and happily announced there were no holds on my account.

Next time I'm just bringing ATM-sized RayBans.

Butterflies Aren't Free. That's Just a Movie Title.

Technically a group of butterflies is called a swarm, or a rabble. But that just doesn't sound right for creatures as light and determined as butterflies. So I made up my own word: Fluttering. Webster's Dictionary, here I come.

The bracelet is jam-packed with butterflies The trick is to find them all, because many are hiding in the petals of flowers, a trick they use in nature, too. (That, and big eye spots that apparently make some birds think they're giant aggressive animals.)

What makes up a fluttering of butterflies? Check the bracelet: Swarovski crystal butterflies, pressed glass butterflies, sterling silver and Thai Karen silver butterflies, and pewter butterflies. They are all fluttering in their jonquil yellow butterfly garden of Czech pressed glass, citrine, chalcedony, Swarovski and fire polish crystals, millefiore hearts, cat's eye beads, and treasures of the bead box.


Now you've all read that email about a butterfly fluttering away, and how you set it free, and all that. Just a little guarantee here: these butterflies aren't leaving. Because they're so happy here? Um, no. They're charms. Remember?


It's because all the charms are attached by sterling silver split rings or wire wrapped onto the chain with sterling silver wire. They can't escape, you don't have to set them free, they don't need to migrate across two continents. They're right where they belong.


On the bracelet.

Temporarily residing at etsy:

Earrings, too.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Grim Grinning Ghosts Come Out to Socialize

Great Caesar's ghost!

When the crypt goes creak,
And the tombstones quake.
Spooks come out for a swinging wake.
Happy haunts materialize,
And begin to vocalize.
Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize.

Now don't close your eyes,
And don't try to hide.
Or a silly spook may sit by your side.
Shrouded in a daft disguise,
They pretend to terrorize.
Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize.

(Music by Buddy Baker and lyrics by F. Xavier Atencio)

I made this bracelet for an EHAG Challenge. The theme was Frightful Fête. My family is a fan of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, and my younger son is quite the Haunted Mansion historian. He hones his dark photography skills there and has some nifty shots on Flickr:

He was my spirit guide, as it were, in the making of this bracelet. I hunted the charms everywhere. I found a cool hearse from an etsy seller who makes pewter charms. The Caesar face, for Great Caesar’s ghost, came from a vintage bracelet I bid on in an ebay auction… just to get one face. (Anyone need some Caesar profiles??)

ghostly ghost hosts

I try to keep charms sterling silver when possible, and collected a chandelier, a pipe organ, and a ghost. I also have an artisan-crafted lampwork ghost (you can’t have too many ghosts, after all). And I put it all together in spooky greens and blacks.

haunted mansion,Disneyland

It is beyond one-of-a-kind. It speaks to our obsession. And the entire time I was making it, I couldn’t get the song out of my head.

It's right here:

Haunted Mansion details

As the moon climbs high o'er the dead oak tree,
Spooks arrive for the midnight spree.
Creepy creeps with eerie eyes,
Start to shriek and harmonize.
Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize.

When you hear the knell of a requiem bell,
Weird glows gleam where spirits dwell.
Restless bones etherialize,
Rise as spooks of every size.

If you would like to join our jamboree,
There's a simple rule that's compulsory.
Mortals pay a token fee.
Rest in peace, the haunting's free.
So hurry back, we would like your company.

Don't laugh when you see the hearse go by

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trouble in the Barking Lot

Last night I made tortilla soup and we sat down to watch out NetFlix movie. It’s a very good thing NetFlix doesn’t charge late fees, because I’d had “It Happened One Night” for a minimum of seven months. Usually we watch one a week, but the Oscar screeners came and Chris left and Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable just sat on the table. It was really good and the soup was amazing and it was just a lovely evening.

After, Chris did the dishes and I cleaned up and went into the study to check email before heading upstairs. When I got to the bedroom door I could hear CRUNCH-CLANG-CRUNCH-CRUNCH-CLANG-RATTLE.

Gracie, she who is the most spoiled of all cats, is the Queen of the Bedroom, and, as such, she is allowed to have her bowl of food up there. Plus she’s very small and underweight, so we try to make her eating experience easy. The bedroom door is kept closed and she goes in and out by exiting and entering via the third story window. She is not a loud eater.

tuxedo cat kitty

And the bedroom door was ajar. I entered and there was Chris, in bed, oblivious and happy, reading his book, with Gracie curled at his feet.

And in the bathroom was Bernie, the World’s Slowest Dog, all 70 pounds of him, scarfing down Gracie’s cat food.

Basset hound
(Bernie, not looking guilty)

I looked at Chris and said, “Please don’t let the dog eat Gracie’s food.”

And he said, “Hunh? I thought that was her eating.”

I looked at Gracie, sitting there wondering why the hell Chris wasn’t protecting her food. Chris looked at her too.

“Oh,” he said.

tuxedo cat,kitty

(Gracie wondering why Chris isn't protecting her food.)

At which point Bernie ambled out, kibble still stuck to his ears.

“I thought she was kind of loud,” Chris added.


(Bernie, sleeping it off.)

This reminded me of an episode many many many years ago, when we were living in Berkeley. It was Saturday night and we were watching Creature Feature. Pete had made a cheesecake for the occasion and it was absolutely awful. How does one make an awful cheesecake? Well, it was early in all our culinary careers. Thor was sniffing around, hangin’ out being the happy dog. I got up to use the bathroom and told Chris, “Whatever you do, don’t let the dog eat my cheesecake.”

I returned to find Thor face-down in my plate, slurping up the last morsel.

“Chris!” I said. “I told you not to let the dog eat my cheesecake!”

“Oh,” he said. “I thought you said to let the dog eat your cheesecake. I thought that was kind of rude, even if the cheesecake isn’t very good, but I figured that’s what you wanted.”

So now I know. My husband is deaf in the arena of animal eating.

Gracie got more food. I did not get more cheesecake.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Horses and Black Cats and Fishies, Oh My

This week tiny black cats crept into my studio, followed by a herd of wild stallions and some tropical fish singing to the sound of steel drums. I managed to lead them to my ebay store, where they plan to entertain the other charmed creatures there.

What Light Through Yonder EZ Cube Breaks?

I am constantly struggling to improve the quality of my jewelry photos. Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I was a pretty respectable photographer. I used a Canon SLR that I loved, and I shot pictures of everything. But times changed. The world went digital, especially for posting pictures. And I ended up with a hand me down Canon Elph that was considered very cool and small when it was new… about 42 designs ago. Now it’s a digital dinosaur. But it’s mine and if you line up the little focus squares, sometimes what you shoot is in focus.


When I started my jewelry biz, I used to take pictures in my bathroom. Hey, the light was good! And the shower curtain filtered the eastern light that came through the window over the shower. I would arrange the jewelry on the toilet seat and shoot away.


But then I progressed. I bought some forms to make photographing the jewelry easier ~ a round bracelet form and eventually a torso for necklaces. I moved out of the bathroom to the dresser in the bedroom, beside a window with west exposure. My sweetie bought me mats in various colors, and I would shoot away every Sunday afternoon. Then my sweetie would apply his ever-improving PhotoShop skills to make my shots look like something.

Of course, depending on the time of year and the weather, the window of opportunity for shooting can be… capricious.


So this year for Christmas, my sweetie bought me the AMAZING EZ CUBE!!!
I was sure this would solve all my photography problems. My sweetie set it up for me, with two little lights on tripods on each side, and an overhead light. He also gave me a detailed explanation of how I was aiming for no shadows and somethingmutterbahblahblah. Yeah. I kind of zoned out.


Then, with a farewell kiss, he headed back to Albuquerque, leaving me with son Yo and my EZ Cube.

My first batch of photos with my new best friend were kind of sad looking. The colors weren’t bright. The gems didn’t sparkle. But I wasn’t balancing on the sink, so I coped.
DH suggested having Yo give me a brighter bulb to go above the EZ Cube, which he did.


The pictures looked worse.

DH returned home for a visit and replaced the Yo bulb with a brighter bulb. I took a new bunch of pictures. The bracelets looked like they’d been tinted with mud.

Last week, desperate, I decided I would shoot outside for BRIGHT TRUE COLORS! Yeah, right. It was windy. My paper blew away. My shell props dribbles sand. The shadows made my photos look like something out of a noir film. My sweetie fixed them somewhat with PhotoShop. (At least I give him the opportunity to learn lots of new PhotoShop tricks.)


I supposed the colors were truer, if you could ignore the glaring shadows and blasting Santa Anas.

When my sweetie returned home at last, the first item on my HoneyDew list was to make my EZ Cube work. Flushed with the challenge, he headed to Samy’s cameras in Pasadena. He returned with a Photo Flood lightbulb, ECA 250 watts, 3200 K.


For those of you who just started hearing blahblahblah, that’s one frickin’ bright and hot lightbulb.


It has a life span of four hours. Yes. Two hundred forty minutes. Max.

And the holder thingie would have cost another $150, so he didn’t get one of those.

I hauled my new creations to the photo room and fired it up. Let me say that is was hot. I mean, really really hot. After it was on for a minute or so, the socket holder thingie would start to make funny sounds. Maybe it was sizzling. (Fire picture from It's not really my photo session.)


So I’d turn off the light and rearrange the jewelry and turn it on and shoot again, and turn it off.

I was starting to sweat. I think I was also starting to go blind. It was very hot.

But I was sure this was the answer to my fervent prayers.

I handed the camera to my sweetie and he opened them up in his iPhoto and OMG, they were ugly. The colors became hues not found in nature… or on my jewelry. They were awful.

I am not going to display any examples of them. They were just toooooooo ugly.

So guess what? I went back and re-shot all of them without the Sizzlelean light. I tried adjusting the side lights some more.

And that’s how I got this week’s photos. Not perfect but the colors are close to true, and no one died of heatstroke.

I look for that in a photo session.