Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Part One Hundred and Eight

You've met this artist, Kris, here before, here, here, here, and again here, when I showed you what I myself have gotten from her!

She's still at it, though, using her talent, creating, and making her wares available to all of us for purchase!  Check 'em out...

What you can find in Reflections:

There are paintings now!

And pendants!

What you can find in Lisianblue:

How sweet is that snuggle bunny?

For more, follow her on Twitter or her blog.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Part One Hundred and Seven

I could be wrong, but I don't think you've met Monika of MyEuropeanTouch here before.

You'll note that her banner says "mosaic art," but that may be an understatement.  This woman is an artist with a capital ART.

A mosaic artist for 10 years, she's been working with different mediums quite literally all her life.  Mosaic is natural for her, though.  Growing up in Germany shortly after WWII, she watched her parents reuse, recycle, and reinvent.

She's come a long way since post-WWII Germany; her work has been seen on HGTV!  But on to more mosaics!

Would you believe she's completely self-taught?!  It's not just about the mosaics, though, no matter what her banner says.  This chick's got serious talent.  And she's come a long way since her childhood, knitting, crocheting, and sewing clothing for her dolls.

She still experiments with her diverse talents and the many types of art that have been a constant presence in her life.  Even the fine arts, which I love because it's close to my heart too.

Wanna know where else you can find her?  Try her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and her About Me page.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dealing with loss, to be blunt, sucks.

First, the Winnie the Pooh hive.  We're really glad that we got the second hive started, the undersea one, because the Pooh hive is, in short, defunct.  The second queen is gone, the population is abysmal, and the colony is just not going to make it.  At this point, it's way too late in the season to rebuild, so we're focusing on the undersea hive, which is going gangbusters, and we'll restart the Pooh hive come spring, either with a split from the undersea hive if it's strong enough or with a new nuc.

Then, worse, and more heartbreaking, Meg.  It's been hard for me to talk about this.  I got Megaera when she was a 9-week-old puppy in 1998.  You've met here (with video), here, here, here, and here.  Best dog ever.  Smart, stubborn, fun, active, caring.  If I was upset, she'd run over to kiss me and make me feel better, every time.  She was half sheltie/half eskimo, and we had fun watching her try to herd the cats.  When she was younger and more spry, she loved hiking and was as agile as a mountain goat.

On Thursday, June 26, I came home from work to find Meg wounded and rushed her to the vet, finding out that she had a mast cell tumor.  We got her medication and tried to bring the swelling down so she could have another good couple of months, but it didn't work.  On the morning of Saturday, June 28, we brought her back to the vet and that was that.  She was 16 years, 3 months, and 16 days old.  I know that's a good long time and I know she had a good life, but it's never enough.  Not really.  Eric had only known her since April of 2008, and he was as much a mess as I.

We love her, always will.

We'll get another dog, for sure, and in the not-too-distant future.  I've had dogs since I was 9 and can't be dogless.  And Eric's always wanted a dog, so of course he wants another.  At this point, it's been almost 4 weeks, and I surprised myself that I'm already able to look at adoptable dogs without hysterically crying.  Just a week or two ago, I couldn't.  I'm still torn, feeling partly like a traitor to Meg, but mostly like there are other dogs that need good homes, and honestly?  Eric and I need a dog.

So we'll see.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Part One Hundred and Six

Today, I've decided to introduce you to an artist you've never met here before, but his work is just mind-blowing.  Meet L.G. Barns of LG Potter in Missouri.

Originally of Augusta, Georgia, he's been potting since 1994, when he got his start at Augusta State University, receiving an award for Excellence in Ceramics in 1996.  He's a natural who spent several years honing his skills and it more than shows.

He ranges from the miniature to the oversized in his pieces, and he loves doing one of a kind work.

I have purchased two of his large bowls as gifts personally, one as a birthday present for my sister, the other a wedding gift for friends.  I also own a small one of his bowls myself, and it's gorgeous.   His workmanship is impeccable and highly recommend his pieces for anyone with an affinity for pottery.

His pieces are really functional too.  How cool is this fit-to-your-hand serving bowl?

Be sure to check out all his other items, and for more, follow his Facebook page.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Part One Hundred and Five

You've met lapidary John Rasmussen here before, but there's always room to show you some of the new creations in Rasmussen Gems, the shop where he and his bead-maven of a wife sell their wares.

I've always had an affinity for blue topaz... my favorite color's blue, so that's easily explained.

It's probably why I'm drawn to this necklace & earrings set too.  Then again, I do love ruby, my birthstone, and I've never seen ruby with green in it before!

Ah, who'm I kidding.  I just like color.  Lots of color.

Or not much color, for that matter.  I've got a thing for plain ol' copper.  Though I'm not sure I'd call this copper pendant "plain."

Want more?  Check out the shop or blog.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I Have This Bad Habit

Procrastination.  That's standard for me.  But that's compounded by my waxing and waning excitement about things too.

If you've been reading along, you know we have bees.  I may have mentioned sometime since last summer when we first decided to get bees that we really intended to get two colonies, in two hives.  In preparation, I finished painting and sealing the Winnie the Pooh hive and started the sea life (fish) hive.

And then I stalled.  We weren't getting bees last summer, as we'd hoped, since it was too late in the season and we couldn't risk them being unable to overwinter.  I was still excited at the prospect of bees, but it was happening somewhere in the distant future.

Then, spring started approaching... but we found out we were going to end up with one nuc, for one hive.  So I still didn't finish the fish hive.  Pooh was already done and we wouldn't need the fish hive this season.

[For those who may not know, a "nuc" is a nucleus hive; approximately 5 frames of drawn honeycomb filled with honey and various stages of brood (eggs, larvae, pupae), plus full of worker bees, a few drones, and one mated queen.  The benefit to having more than one hive is the ability to mix and match frames.  So for instance, recently when we found ourselves queenless, had we a second hive, we could have pulled frames of brood from the fish hive to install in the Pooh hive, and we wouldn't have the issue we're experiencing now, which is a decrease in population while the new queen's eggs become larvae and pupae before becoming worker bees.]

So the fish hive stagnated.

And stagnated.

And then at the May beekeepers' meeting, there was this guy.  He announced that he was splitting several of his hives into nucs.  I raced over to him after the meeting, found out the price, and gave him my card.

And then didn't hear from him.

So the fish hive continued to stagnate.

Until this past weekend, when he called and said the nucs would be ready at the end of this week!  Holy crow, I only had 5/8 of one deep painted and ready!  So last night, at my first opportunity, I had to finish the one hive box so we could seal it tonight and have it ready for the weekend.  With a nuc, we're only installing 5 frames in a 10-frame box, so we don't need a second box right away.  Of course, I'm going to get going on the second box now, because the breed we're getting are Buckfast bees and they're notorious for multiplying quickly.  That's a terrific thing for hive strength, especially this late in the season, but it also means they should need a second deep pretty soon.

Second deep later, though.  First, the first deep of the fish hive...

As you can see, I've been having fun.  We've got, so far, a cleaner shrimp and an oyster with a pearl, a hammerhead shark and some seahorses, a clownfish in an anemone and a hippo tang, and then a couple of jellyfish with a moorish idol.

Our girls will be living in style!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Wanna See What Royalty Looks Like?

So today we got to do our first inspection since releasing the queen into the hive.  I was so stressed out that I had a nightmare last night that all I saw flying in our yard were drones and the hive itself was being robbed.

[All drones is bad; you need the vast majority of a colony's population to be worker bees.  The drones are the males and only useful when a virgin queen needs to mate.  Robbing occurs when foreign bees or wasps smell the hive's honey and race in en force to steal it.  The hive's bees will fight the invaders to the death, leaving your colony very weak if you don't or can't move fast to help them.]

That didn't happen.  We did see a bunch of drone comb (capped cells that were shaped very bulbously, rather than flatish), which initially concerned us.  Until we got to frame 6.

On the 6th frame, we saw a lot of open cells filled with liquid, which Eric initially thought was honey.

And then he spotted her.

The queen!  She's honestly easy to spot right now, as most of our bees are still the original dark ones, and she's so light, we don't even need the green dot on her back yet.  But as her brood hatches, and their coloration will be more like hers, she'll be a little tougher, even though you can see the difference here.  She's much bigger than the workers, with no striping, and a very elongated abdomen.  That abdomen is like that because that's where she stores her eggs and the sperm from her bout of mating, whereas workers don't have the same needs.

What you're seeing happening here is that the workers surrounding her are attending to her and grooming her.  This is great behavior to see, especially since it's obvious they've taken to their new queen.  The biggest indicator of that is that she's alive.  But it's nice, for me, to see them caring for her as they should, since those are our original bees doing it, not her own brood.

So... what we initially thought was nothing more than honey, I'm now speculating is actually a frame full of royal jelly with eggs floating in it.  At least we hope so!  It seems reasonable, and eggs are really tiny and hard to see.  Next week will be the real telltale time, because by then we should see larvae and maybe even pupae.

Fingers crossed!
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