Welcome to Simply Stated!

Thank you so much for stopping by. This blog is something I've set up just for fun -- yours and mine! There are any number of things that may be discussed here from everyday living in the California desert to digital scrapbooking to my favorite books to cardmaking to the art of letter writing to caring for feral cats to movies I like. After you read my bio, you should have a good sense of other topics you may find here. I welcome your comments and hope you return again and again!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How 'Bout Them Democrats?

Last night's opening of the Democratic National Convention was a breath of fresh air! I love the positive, upbeat tone each speaker projected and the way they looked to the future, as opposed to re-hashing the past or mudslinging. The overall goal to improve the lives of all Americans, not just a select few, dominated the evening.

Caroline Kennedy's introduction of her Uncle Teddy would have made her father, mother, and brother proud. And Ted Kennedy's powerful speech in support of Barack Obama was especially touching in light of his recent brain surgery and continuing battle with brain cancer. The risk he took to travel from Massachusetts to Denver and deliver his speech were apparently inconsequential to him compared to his commitment to being at the DNC and showing support for his candidate.

My favorite part was Michelle Obama's heartfelt and inspiring speech supporting her husband. Her easy-going, down-to-earth style makes her seem like a woman who might live up the street from me--something I've never felt about any other First Lady or potential First Lady.

I think the DNC is off to a great start!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hand Beaded Earrings, Etc.

Ta-dah! The first pair of earrings I sold (just this week)!
These were custom made for a teen-aged girl after her mom saw
the lime green glass cube pair (shown below) I was wearing.

It's funny how I got back into beading earlier this year. I was at a rubber stamp workshop making cards with a group and complimented the woman sitting next to me on her beautiful jewelry. She graciously thanked me, and then it was the Close to My Heart Consultant who said, "Oh, Kelly makes all her own stuff. When she's not stamping, she's beading." Then Kelly offered, "You can always find me at the bead shop."

BEAD SHOP?? Huh? We have a bead shop in town? (The last one I knew about had closed decades earlier.) I started gathering info about the local bead shop, and then I had to go there and check it out.

The Spirited Bead is a branch of the original shop located in Tehachapi, CA and was established by Karen Lewis (a.k.a. Klew), an amazing artist who makes extraordinary beads, jewelry, and wearable art using polymer clay. To see what I mean, take a peek at her website: http://www.klewexpressions.com/

It turns out, the local bead shop has been around for over four years. Okay, so I'm slow on the uptake, but just think how much money I've saved! Oh, no, that's not right. I spent the money I might have spent on beads on rubber stamps, cardmaking supplies, scrapbooking stuff, and books. (Not to mention a foray into Claire's Accessories in the mall where I picked up a huge number of earrings right before I began making my own.)

Ten or fifteen years ago when I first tried beading, I was feeling my way in the dark. I didn't take any classes or find any books with instructions. This time around, I've taken two hands-on classes at the nearby Spirited Bead as well as found a number of great beadmaking books to refer to.

Here's a photo of my recent creations. I really enjoy making earrings for myself and others. But you can see, I've made a couple of necklaces to coordinate with earrings, and even an anklet (the project from my Basic Beading class, not shown).

The lime green glass cube earrings referred to above are in the bottom right of this photo.

I have to give credit where credit's due: the frame with chicken coop wire which is home for my creations was an idea my older daughter told me about. I passed the word to my hubby, and he made me three!

I use a variety of beads: Swarovski crystals, clear glass, crackle glass, cultured pearls, and wooden, to name a few. I work with colors I like together or drawing from clothing I'm trying to match.

Beading is a soothing activity and is even easier since we bought an Ott lamp for the living room!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Desert Sunrises

Since the end of May or early June, my hubby and I have been up daily before the sun to walk around our property. After we measured the distance of one circuit, we added a seventh lap, which increased the total distance walked to two miles. As of 16 June, we've walked two miles seven days a week. This has turned out to be great exercise with benefits! Being up and out so early means we are able to take in beautiful sunrises every day.

Looking east toward the Argus Range in the background,
mid-July 2008.

Other benefits we've gained by walking daily is a ten pound weight loss for me, over a thirty pound loss for my DH, a general feeling of well being, and a strong sense of accomplishment.

Another eastward shot.

This photo to the west shows
a well known, local landmark, Five Fingers, highlighted by sunlight.

As one season folds into the next, we'll need to adapt our walking schedule accordingly and no doubt we'll walk after the sun has risen to avoid the early morning chill of fall and winter. In the meantime, one of the best things about our walking routine as it is right now is enjoying the glorious desert sunrises!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our Adventures with Feral Cats

My husband and I have been blessed to have had six cats during our 17 years together. Most came from a feral background. Sissy (below) just recently disappeared after 14 years somewhere in this big old desert. She was at least third generation feral. [Feral cats are those which have been separated from domestication, whether through abandonment, loss, or running away, and become wild. The term also refers to descendants of such cats. Feral kittens may be re-domesticated, to some extent, if handled by humans within their first 5 weeks of life.]

For some unknown reason, Sissy's mother, FluffNugget, became friendly with me toward the end of her pregnancy. She would let me pet her and even pick her up. After FluffNugget birthed her litter of four kittens, we found their location and catnapped them. They lived for several weeks in our spare shower. Four to five times a day, I'd go outdoors and bring FluffNugget into the house depositing her in the shower to nurse her babies. During this time, we also had a lot of play time with the kittens and handled them a lot.

This routine went on for approximately six weeks when, for an equally unknown reason, FluffNugget began to run from me each time I tried to approach her. By the time the kittens were that age, many mama cats would have weaned their litter anyway, so we felt they'd gotten the best start in life.

Pictured here when they were small enough to fit in a garbage basket, clockwise from top Missy, Bubby, Opie, and Sissy.

We were attached to all four kittens by that time, and kept them all. Sissy was soon the lone surviving cat. She was completely re-domesticated and was very affectionate with humans. She virtually made a 180 degree turn-around because she never became friendly with another cat after her litter mates were gone.

Then, along came Buster. Our Bluetick Hound, Mollie (above), was outside one night barking her head off and causing quite a ruckus. My husband went out to see what was up. When he walked back in the house, he was carrying the cutest little five or six week old orange kitten shown below snuggled on my hubby's chest.

We never did find out if Buster was abandoned or from a feral colony. He was a quite character and couldn't be called affectionate although he had his moments. He liked us, as long as we didn't get too close, too often. Above you see can Buster in all his glory lounging in one of his favorite spots under the dining room table. Buster disappeared in June 2007, shortly after his first birthday, which left us both very heartbroken. (Sissy, on the other hand, was quite happy.)

In the early days after Buster's disappearance, my DH spent part of every day outside searching for him thinking maybe he'd gotten himself stuck some place. On one of these outings, he came back with a little cat he mistakenly believed was abandoned in one of his old cars. She was about five weeks old, and we decided to keep her. She had a smoky color so she became "Smoky," also known as Smoky-Dokey and Mocha. Like Buster, she's not conventionally affectionate, but wherever we end up in the house, there's Smoky close by. She prefers not to be picked up or over-petted, but allows it at times. At night time, she snuggles tightly against the back of my legs as I sleep. As long as we follow her cues, we no longer get scratched or bit. (The sooner you figure these things out, the better it is for everyone.)

During another outing on our property, still in search of Buster, my DH discovered two other young kittens where he'd found Smoky. Oops--she was not an abandoned kitten, she'd only been left alone in the nest for awhile. Each time he went back to the nest, he saw more kittens! I told him to quit going out there because I didn't want the litter to keep growing! Final count was a litter of five kittens, not including Smoky. Eventually Smoky's Mama and some of her litter mates disappeared.

MizzSmoky-Dokey loves being in the middle of everything including my stamping projects!

Until last week, we had two of Smoky's sisters (Pretty Girl & Patches) and a stray (Blackie), who we feed morning and night on top of an upright freezer that sits beyond our deck. Each had kittens although Patches' lone baby was born early in the summer heat and was not able to tolerate it. In the past few days, Patches has also disappeared. Pretty Girl once had four kittens all of whom were healthy and feral--just like their mama, they’d run at the sight of us. Then suddenly, only two remain (Mini-Buster 'cuz he's another orange tabby, and Mini-Black&White).

Those two are the "teenaged" kittens of the clowder. We've noticed this week, they're becoming bolder and not taking off as quickly when we approach or inching their way in our direction. They now eat the food we leave out, too.

Blackie's five kittens are approximately six or seven weeks old and she has allowed us to handle them since they were about two or three weeks old. She sticks close by which means we can continue to socialize the kittens, and we hope to eventually find them good homes.

A couple of Blackie's kittens cuddle for a nap.

Kittens will do anything for their Mama's Milk,
even stand on their heads.

In spite of knowing, in general, outside cats do not live as long as indoor cats, desert life is rough on cats, and that these cats have no attachment to us, we find ourselves growing quite attached to The Feral Family that frequents our freezer top and deck. It's hard when any of them disappear.