My Weekend Project

A couple of weeks ago, I was organizing my polymer clay stuff in my studio when I found a bag of faux jade I had mixed up years ago at one of my guild meetings. So, I got out my rubber stamps and paint and had some fun making beads and charms for jewelry. I was playing around with different combinations when I decided to create a fringy bracelet with some of the bead charms I had made. I love fringy bracelets and have been making them for years. As I find myself moving into a more improv, freeform style with my jewelry, this type of bracelet fits perfectly with my interests and taste.

Going with the ancient look of the faux jade charms, I chose some matte/opaque disc shaped beads: African opal, coral, palmwood along with jade and turquoise heishe and rectangle fossilized coral beads. The fossilized beads are great. Some have starburst patterns and others look like they’re covered in ancient script in various color combinations of oranges, ambers and tan.

The design possibilities of these bracelets are endless. I have so much fun creating them that I’ve often thought of offering to make custom fringy bracelets with a person’s favorite charms, beads and ephemera.

My workstation won’t be this neat by the end of my project. As I beaded, I thought about a clasp. A Chinese coin toggle clasp would be perfect to finish this bracelet. If I can’t find one, I’ll make one then. Hmmm, I’ve been meaning to use that package of PMC…

More Musings on Jersey Shore 2008

I wish I lived near the beach. It’s interesting because years ago I had my natal chart read. I found an astrologer and sent her the date and time of my birth and she in turn sent me a map of the alignments of the planets and stars at the exact moment of my birth. Fascinating. One of the things my chart told me was that I am deficient in Water, of the four elements, Earth, Fire, Water and Air. It advised that I should either live near water or drink a lot of water everyday. Even before this information was shared with me, I have always felt very drawn to the sea. So, someday, I would like to live by the beach so I could walk at the water’s edge every morning as I did when I was on vacation. It is at the top of my list of “well fillers”.

As long as I’ve been visiting the beach, I’ve listened to my Dad’s stories about his passion for fishing. Fishing is one of his well fillers, I think, and it really doesn’t have all that much to do with the fish or actually catching them, if that makes any sense. It is the whole experience of being at the water’s edge or out on the sea in a boat and interacting with it. My Dad’s passion, even though it is much different from my own, has inspired my passions for nature and art and photography.

As we look to our parents and those venerable elders who have influenced our lives, it is there that we can learn more about ourselves. I am grateful for so much my Dad has taught me about life.

I was sad to leave this wonderful place and week of Being but have come home with its wisdom of connecting, with myself, with my family and with Nature.

I am looking forward to my return next year…

Saturday Morning Tea

The weekend is showing promise of perfect mid-summer weather – nice and warm with lower humidity and sunny skies. Now that things are caught up from vacation both at work and at home, I’m looking forward to a couple of days with no responsibilities, filled with working on my art projects. I started my May journal page but set it aside for vacation. Now it’s time to turn my focus back to it and complete what I started. There are so many things that I would like to do and sometimes I get so overwhelmed with trying to balance it all, especially with a full-time day job. How do you find balance in your life?

Ok, time for my cup of tea. This morning I’m sipping a Japanese Sencha called Supersencha Kamakura. The dry leaf looks like grass clippings, flat, smooth and very green. Green tea has a long history in Japan, having been introduced in the 9th century by a Buddhist monk returning from his travels in China. You can read more about it here. The most well known type of Japanese green tea is Matcha, the powdered green tea used for the Tea Ceremony, Chanoyu (translation: hot water for tea). I had the honor of attending a tea ceremony last fall in Boston and I wrote about it here.

After the leaves are plucked, they are steamed to stop the oxidation and then rubbed and dried. The rubbing breaks down the cell walls and releases the volatile oils which gives the tea its wonderful flavor.

The liquor has an interesting yellow green color and sweet, vegetal aroma. Japanese green tea can be very vegetal tasting, moreso than Chinese green tea. This tea is quite vegetal but also sweet which smooths out the pungency. There is also a slight nutty note which lingers on my tongue. Years ago I received this tea bowl as a gift from a friend and it is perfect for my Japanese green tea. I imagine majestic mountains watching over the tea fields below.

Time for another cup. Have a glorious weekend!

Jersey Shore 2008

A week ago last Sunday, I let go of my regular day-to-day life and journeyed down to the shore again. Once I exited the Garden State Parkway, I opened my car windows wide to welcome the ocean breeze that greeted me as I got closer to the sea. As I turned down the road that would lead me to the beach, I felt all of the tension melt away as I inhaled the cool salty air. Once again, I was taken back to my origins and my inner self as I experienced a week of just “Being”.

Even though I had the perfect opportunity to sleep in, I rose every morning around 6am and had my tea out on the balcony. I listened to the songbirds greet the day and watched the terns and gulls as they wheeled across the sky. Constant was the gentle roar of the surf, a sound that spoke to the deepest parts of me as I watched the waves rise and fall.

I walked the beach every morning for about an hour before the beachgoers started to stake their claim on the sand. I passed fishermen sitting patiently next to their rows of poles and wide-eyed small children splash and dart at the water’s edge. I felt such a sense of calm envelop me as I placed one foot in front of the other and moved along the beach. As Eckhardt Tolle suggests in his books “A New Earth” and “The Power of Now”, I emptied my mind as best I could and immersed myself completely in that moment. It was challenging at first because my mind wanted to think about all of the issues in my life and what was going on. I pushed past those thoughts and kept bringing myself back to the feel of my feet against the sand and the rhythm of my breathing. I came to understand what Thich Nhat Hanh refers to when he suggests “walking meditation” as a good way to connect with yourself. Not only was I able to connect with myself but I also felt connected to everything else. This gave me such a great comfort.

I’m fascinated by waves and always have been since I was very young. There is something magical about the way they are created , how they rise and peak and then crash onto the shore. Studying the movement of waves has taught me of life cycles – gestation and birth: the rising up and creation of the wave, the period of a life: the wave at its full height and crest, and death: the falling down to earth and dissolution. The wave is absorbed back into the water to create another wave and this cycle keeps repeating itself. Just like our lives.

More shore pictures and musings to come…

Saturday Morning Tea on Sunday

Back to reality from my very relaxing trip down the Jersey Shore. I have this one more day of vacation, however, and I am going to savor every moment. I begin with a cup of one of my favorite China Oolongs called Bai Hao. Translating to mean “hairy crab”, I’m not sure why it’s called this but the leaf is rich and variegated.

After steeping in 180 degree water for 3 minutes, some of the leaves are still curled up and some have straightened to reveal their intact state.

The liquor is a buttery amber color with a sweet aroma. The taste is quite sweet with a fruitiness that lingers on the tongue. Many Chinese Oolongs that I’ve tried have a woodiness to their taste that I don’t really care for. I think it is probably connected to how long the leaf is oxidized. The darker leaves seem to produce that woody note. This tea, however, is light and fruity and very enjoyable.

It was an interesting experience to be away from my computer for a solid week. Of course, many vacations are taken with the intent of removing yourself from the busyness of your day to day life. If I had a laptop I probably would have brought it with me as there was internet access in the condo. I’m glad I didn’t though because it was a nice break from the electronic world and the distraction it so readily provides on a daily basis. For one week, my life was focused on walking on the beach, inhaling the salty air and listening to the sound of the waves. It gave me the opportunity to just “be” and listen to that voice deep within which sometimes gets drowned out by everything else in my life. I read and wrote in my journal a lot, too.

More on my Jersey Shore experience in the coming week…