August 10, 2009

It Is What It Is

I’m just not sure what it is.

Since I returned from Florida in June, I haven’t been led to resume the path I was on before I left.

I haven’t felt the urge to blog. Getting your comments posted is about all that I’ve been able to manage. I haven’t even replied to the loving comments you have shared. My e-mails haven’t been read to the point that some of the inboxes are overflowing and now reject new messages.

Using the internet to teach myself HTML/web page design at the same time we are plotting a course that will unshackle us from dependency on JPS (Jamaica Power Service o/c Just Poor Service) has consumed my time and forcefully kicked my dormant brain cells back awake.

It was always so easy for me to learn. Now I struggle to hold on to what I just read for more than a few minutes. Wait, was that about inverter panels, HTML tags for table layouts or battery arrays? Absorbing this information, testing my comprehension thru trial and error (lots of errors), and separating the facts from the hype being offered by alternative energy experts here in Jamaica is what I’m up to these days.

For now, I have neither the time, nor energy nor inclination to keep up this blog. Slipping away in the darkness of night just isn’t my way, but I didn’t know how to tell you good-bye, other than, GOOD-BYE! WALK GOOD! JAH BLESS! Please remember me when you pray.

June 11, 2009

Four Generations Will Gather

By the time you read this, I will be in Florida!

Mom turned 80 on May 21st and we are gathering the family for a reunion celebration. The last time we did this was for her 75th EarthStrong. Since that last big get-together, we have welcomed Ethan into the family and mourned the loss of Candace.

As there will be four generations of us and no one's home is large enough to hold us all, we rented a massive beach house in St Augustine, Florida for a week. My sisters and neice have done an amazing job of coordinating school, work and vacation schedules, conference calls and e-mails; all of which were kept secret from Mom until her actual EarthStrong. We told her about it on a family conference call. It was self-defense! We had to make sure she wasn't making other travel plans. (My pet name for her is "Miss Never-Stay-At-Home"!)

Thank you, Jah, for the blessing of a wise and Godly woman as my Mother. Thank you for my two brothers and my three sisters. Thank you, Jah, for my children and my grandchildren and my neices and nephews and my aunts and uncles. Thank you for our bonds of blood and family lineage. Thank you for letting me know where I come from, so I can help our coming generations find their paths into the future!

June 8, 2009

Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean?

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life; how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it. She wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. Soon the pots came to boil. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

When she turned off the burners she fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup. Turning to her daughter, she asked, 'Tell me what you see.'

'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft, mushy. The mother then asked her daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, her mother asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted the rich aroma. She asked, 'What does it mean, Mother?'

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside hardened. Only the ground coffee beans were unique! After they were in the boiling water, they changed the water. 'Which are you?' she asked her daughter. 'When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Consider this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other tribulation, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiffened spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Jah, I pray that I can always be THE COFFEE BEAN!

June 6, 2009

Cross In Lucite

The pendant is a cross embedded in lucite. I used a combination of right angle weave, netting and peyote to make the band that holds the lucite oval. The necklace is made of seed beads and a beaded toggle clasp.

June 5, 2009

A Peaceful Visit

My visit with my dear Sistah-friend, FBMB, was a balm for my soul. I hadn’t seen her in donkey years and we picked up our relationship like it was last week! While I was focused on wrapping up my career and moving to Jamaica, she transferred to Denver, Colorado, USA to co-ordinate a national volunteer program and we lost contact.

Last May I got an e-mail on an old e-mail address that I haven’t used in years; since C&WJ admitted they couldn’t repair the phone line at the house. When I realized I would have to make other arrangements for e-mail, I sent out the generic “Use my new e-mail address” and pretty much forgot about it. I stopped checking the old inbox.

One morning I got a strong urge to check the old inbox. Try as I might, I couldn’t ignore the ning-ning-ninging in the back of my head. I am glad I followed my mind, because, in addition to all the junk, there was an e-mail from FBMB, letting me know she was back in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She was checking to see if that was still my e-mail address. For the past year we have e-mailed, texted and talked to bring us up to date on each other’s lives.

When the timing was right, we made arrangements for her to come down for a visit. I, of course, had a long list of places I wanted to take her. The morning she boarded the flight, her husband called to say the one thing she needed from this vacation was plenty of rest.

So, OK, Lady Roots, put away the tour guide plans. Your friend needs rest, not running around the south coast. Other than one trip to Mandeville and one therapy session, we only took her to Jack Sprat and to YS Falls. The Black River Safari, MarBlue, Font Hill Beach, Lil Ochi and Accompong will be on the agenda when she returns with her husband.

FBMB was the woman whom I most admired in my corporate life. Once, when another manager said that there was no room for God in the boardroom, her response was, “If there is no room for God, there’s no room for me.” At that moment, I knew she was a woman I wanted to work for. Thank you, Jah, for the love and friendship of this wonderful woman.

May 25, 2009

I Am Doing The Happy Dance

Probably not a pretty site to anyone but my husband! Me, doing the Happy Dance on crutches!

I am on my way to MoBay to pick up a wonderful Sistren from Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She will be with us for a week and I plan to show her the best of St. Bess. I won't post while she's here, probably won't have time to reply to shared thoughts and may not even get to my e-mail. But you will all be in my heart and in my prayers as I full-joy the blessing of her being here with us.

She is an amazing, incredible, delightful woman I was blessed to meet during my former corporate life in America. Her compassion saved my sanity more than once. If she gives permission, I will post a blog about our visit once she leaves.

So, while I am off-line, if an occassion arises and you need to do the Happy Dance, here are the instructions. Feel free to improvise as the music in your heart moves you.

May 23, 2009

Royal Ras Zulu Double Weave

This reversible bracelet is based on a piece from Diane Fitzgerald’s
book, Zulu Inspired Beadwork. I did make a few design alterations, but that’s the freedom of beading! I used only one clasp instead of two and omitted the picot edges of the original design.

The three rib rows are size 6 seed beads and the two woven connecting rows are size 11 seed beads, black on one side and white on the other. It gives me two looks in one bracelet. The toggle is a peyote stitched tube of size 6s with size 11 embellishments.

I find the traditional Zulu beading stitches to be labour intensive, but meditative. Once you understand the stitch pattern, it is easy to get lost in the repetitive motions of the beading. I was able to complete this one in just four days. I can see it becoming one of my favorites!

May 21, 2009

Bad Advice

A prospective client has been given bad advice and I am not sure how much effort I want to expend to convince her of that before she makes an expensive, ill-advised decision.

If you read my profile you know that I install point-of-sale, inventory management and accounting software. All my clients come to me via word of mouth referrals. I do not advertise my services, because I have found that satisfied clients make the most effective advertisements.

So, a long time client asks me to call the owner of a manufacturing plant here in Saint Elizabeth to arrange a preview of the system I installed for him. He says based on their discussions, her present set-up isn't meeting her needs and he is sure I can help.

After the presentation, she enthusiasticly agrees to have the network wiring installed, purchase the uninterrupted power supplies and arrange the funds for my fee. She is to call me once everything is lined up.

A few days later she calls to ask if we can renegotiate the payment terms from 50% down and balance upon completion, to 50% down, 25% upon completion and balance within a month. I have to admit that I was impressed! My usual experience is a quick agreement to the terms, with unlimited excuses when the project is completed. So far, I have never actually had to make good on the threat to activate a dormant virus if I don't get paid.

Believing this renegotiation was a sign of positive progress in her decision making I thought matters were going well. The next thing I know, she calls to tell me "someone" told her they could hook she up dut cheep.

Out of curiosity, I research the software that was recommended, to find that it is, indeed, less expensive than my proposal. But the customer reviews are a litany of horror stories. Multiple crashes, failure to install, glitches in the setup process and a total lack of tech support. The two features that managed to get good customer reviews are features she can't use! The on-line banking feature and the payroll module are of no value to her as they are based on North American protocols and not adaptable to Jamaican requirements.

She is taking for granted that this "someone" will fill the gaps for her. She is making a short term decision, based on price, about a situation that should involve long range, strategic planning.

Before you jump to the conclusion that there are ego issues involved, I did not write or develop the software that I recommended to her. My recommendations are based on client needs.

If she were tech-oriented, I would e-mail the links to the user forums where one customer after another has razored the product itself and the lack of support from the company that sells it. In the end, I will probably do nothing more than suggest she get information about the software from more than one source.

I am a firm believer that what is for me, can't be for you. I hope I can be gracious, humble, professional and helpful when she calls to be rescued from this mistake she is about to embrace.

May 16, 2009

Cultured Kulcha

A base of faux pearls stitched in right angle weave sports an embellishment of ites, green and gold (red, green and yellow) seed beads. The gold-toned clasp is connected to the bracelet with rings of clear seed beads. I like the feminine look and feel of this piece.

While finishing Nurse M's fifth netted pearl set, I swore I wouldn't do another one for at least a year. But about half way thru it, I begin to visualize it being done in different colours, rather than all the sides of the net being the same colour. This is the manifestation of that vision.

Life Explained

May 6, 2009

Hello, Mr Schwinn, I Missed You

I have achieved another of my recovery goals! At 5:30am I hobbled down to the gym on my crutches and worked out for the first time since my tumble-down last November. The gym is located downstairs, below the living area of our home.

Granted it wasn't even a pale shadow of the workout routine I was doing before, but I did break a sweat and IT FELT GOOD! I did a fifteen minute ride on the recumbent bike, some strength training with resistance bands and then another ten minute ride. Except for the water bottle attachment, this is what my Schwinn recumbent bike looks like.

Once my balance gets better, I will attempt the treadmill and the NordicTrack cross country ski machine. Thank you, Jah, for the gift of recovery. I am getting stronger every day!

May 4, 2009

Prayer Pouch

This was designed for a friend's first born. It is loosely based on the tradition of African amulet bags that were made of leaves, tree bark, feathers, and animal skins by a female elder when a child was born.
The navel string (umbilical cord) was placed into the bag along with other talismanic objects believed to ward off evil spirits. The bag was worn under the child's outer clothing. By the time the natural materials used to make the bag wore out, the child was believed to be spiritually strong enough to have other protections in place.

The amulet pouch is about one inch by one inch. I placed a cowrie shell inside the pouch to represent prosperity.
In the interest of child safety, she was advised not to let the baby hold the pouch, since we all know things go right into their tiny mouths and beads are a choking hazard for babies. It is hung on the wall away from the crib.

April 30, 2009

Flat Spiral

Having made four netted pearls sets for Nurse M, I was not looking forward to beginning the fifth. I needed to do something with a different stitch before starting the next netted pearl set.

Thanks to the generosity of Sistren Pearl, a tutorial on her blog, Beading Gem's Journal, helped me to learn the flat spiral stitch. I didn't have enough bicone beads to complete a bracelet, so I used 3mm and 6mm faux pearls with opaque black seed beads. The toggle is a peyote tube embellished with faux pearls.
We can now colour the Sav project done! We went back on Wednesday so I could complete the staff training. The owner flew in from America, but didn't participate in the training session. Since she brought a manager's cheque for the full balance due, I'm happy!

We did go back to MarBlue for our date last Sunday. He had the grilled snapper and I chose the grilled mahi mahi. We both had organic salads and steamed vegetables. Good thing there wasn't anything chocolate on the menu, or I would have succumbed to the temptation. Again, a delightful evening with my husband and a delicious meal in a beautiful setting. Thank you, Jah, for allowing us to full-joy the bounty of your magnificent creation.

April 23, 2009

Where Things Stand

The Sav project could be wrapped up in just one more visit. I'm waiting for authorization from the American-based owner, because I need to make sure I will get a cheque for the outstanding balance before I leave. I have another client in Sav who needs some minor customization work done and I'll be able to take care of both in one trip.

The physical therapist is on vacation for the month of April, so I am doing the exercises at home. When she left I was still relying heavily on the wheelchair and just learning to hobble about unsteadily with crutches. Now, I am getting pretty good at getting around on the crutches. Only something that takes a long time, like grocery shopping, still requires the wheelchair. I am working on rebuilding my stamina.

I still have one more set of netted faux pearls to complete for Nurse M. This will be the fifth set she has ordered. I probably won't post a picture, because the only difference in this last set will be the colour of the cross bead in the netting. The main colour will be an opaque black seed bead and the cross bead will be a silver-lined crystal seed bead. I am glad she is a repeat, satisfied customer, but I wish she was interested in something other than netted pearls.

On a happier note, I am glad to let you know I have driven to Mandeville twice this week. My husband went with me both times to ensure all went well. He has gotten even more protective since my fall. I thank Jah for a husband who looks out for my safety.

He looks out for my romantic needs as well. He has asked me on date for Sunday evening. I hope we go back to MarBlue! This time I am ordering the roasted snapper and steamed veggies. Dating my husband is good for my heart.

April 22, 2009

April 21, 2009

The Open Toed Shoe Pledge

A lovely young Jamaican sistren that lives in Atlanta, Georgia, USA sent this to me via e-mail. I just wonder if I should take it as a compliment that she sees me as still eligible for membership in the Cute Girl Sisterhood or if she's telling me something in the kindest way she knows how.

As a member of the Cute Girl Sisterhood, I pledge to follow the Rules when wearing sandals and other open-toe shoes:

I promise to always wear sandals that fit. My toes will not hang over and touch the ground, nor will my heels spill over the backs. And the sides and tops of my feet will not pudge out between the straps.

I will go polish-free or vow to keep the polish fresh, intact and chip-free. I will not cheat and just touch up my big toe.

I will sand down any mounds of skin before they turn hard and yellow.

I will buff and moisturize my skin so my feet and soles are soft and silky.

I will shave the hairs off my big toe.

I won't wear pantyhose even if my misinformed girlfriend, coworker, mother, or sister tells me the toe seam really will stay under my toes if I tuck it there.

If a strap breaks, I won't duct-tape, pin, glue or tuck it back into place hoping it will stay put. I will get my shoe fixed or toss it.

I will not live in corn denial; rather I will lean on my good friend Dr. Scholl's if my feet need him.

I will resist the urge to buy jelly shoes. This is out of concern for my safety, and the safety of others. No one can walk properly when standing in a pool of sweat and I would hate to take someone down with me as I fall and break my ankle.

I will take my toe ring off toward the end of the day if my toes swell and begin to look like Vienna sausages.

I will be brutally honest with my girlfriend/sister/coworker when she asks me if her feet are too ugly to wear sandals. Someone has to tell her that her toes are as long as my fingers and no sandal makes creepy feet look good.

I will promise if I wear flip flops that I will ensure that they actually flip and flop, making the correct noise while walking and I will swear NOT to slide or drag my feet while wearing them.

I will promise to go to my local nail salon at least once per season and have a real pedicure (they are worth EVERY penny).

I will promise to throw away any white/off-white sandals that show signs of wear... nothing is tackier than dirty white sandals.

Don't keep this is to yourself - pass it on to other sisters.

If mi see unnu sport a look like dis yah fool-fool gal, mi gwine 'tep pon allah unno toes dem wit mi bruk-up foot! (If I see you looking like this, I will step on your toes with my broken foot!)

April 19, 2009

Treasure Chest Jewels

The name for this set came from the tubes of "bead soup" used to make it. The ingredients of the bead soup mix included size 6-15 seed beads, E beads and bugle beads. If you click on the image to open it in another window, you will be able to see the colours better.

Eight N'debele beaded beads and one right angle weave-covered wooden bead make up the necklace. The nine beaded beads are on a gold toned neckwire I bought at Michael's in Dadeland Station the last time I was in Florida. I am waiting for a client for this set before adding the earring wires. The bracelet is done in N'debele stitch with brick stitch end tabs.

The focal bead on the necklace is a match to the beaded bead used as a toggle on the bracelet. I took a wooden bead as the base, coloured it with a permanent marker, glazed it with a golden polish, and then with seed beads and bugle beads created a right angle weave cage around it.

I've had to resort to scanned images because the digital camera has stopped speaking to me once again! If we resume a dialogue, I'll try to post better pictures.

April 16, 2009

April 14, 2009

Netted Pearls in Bronze

This is the third set of netted pearls I have done for Nurse M, the wife of the surgeon who worked on my ankle. The original set was done in a netting of gold seed beads with bronze accent beads. The second set was netted in opaque black seed beeds.

The bangle bracelet, pendant and earrings in this faux pearl set were netted in silver-lined bronze seed beads with clear gold seed bead accents. The earwires are 14ktgp.

April 12, 2009