About this blog

The original intention of this blog was to help promote my handcrafted jewelry and beading supplies. However, I believe I lead an interesting life (which Dave gets a lot of credit for), so you will often find ramblings about things other than beads and jewelry! Hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoy living it!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dave and Doom

Some of my favorite pictures of the men in my life!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What the Heck!!!

First off...you may want to grab your favorite beverage...this is kind of a long story!!!

As I alluded to in a previous post, Dave and I had taken the bikes out for a ride on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. We had stopped at the gas station (which is a regular gathering spot for bikes on Sundays) and filled up, then headed to what's becoming our regular breakfast spot. About 4 or 5 miles from the restaurant we came up on a slow moving truck. The driver was doing about 50mph...the speed limit on this road (it's a rural highway, one lane in each direction surrounded by...well...nothing) is 60mph and we were happily cruising at about 70mph. We were riding in our normal spots with me on the left and Dave on the right. Because of where I ride, I'm the one who decides if oncoming traffic is clear and we can safely pass. Looking ahead, I determined that it was clear (there wasn't another vehicle coming as far as I could see), so I gave the throttle a twist, passed the truck and started to ease back into the lane (while I ease back into the lane, Dave cuts it a little sharper behind me so he can resume his position on the right). When we pass other vehicles on this particular highway, we normally get up to about 80-85mph (the speed isn't really necessary, but we want to make the pass as quick as possible so we can get back to our lane...and...it just feels good). So, here I am easing back into the lane, and I hear a whooshing sound and realize my bike is slowing down. What the heck!? I give the throttle a twist and I can hear the engine rev, but I'm not picking up any speed...the bike is still slowing down. I look at the rpm gauge, and it's responding to the throttle so I'm a little confused. Then I look at my digital speedometer and it's going from 85mph to 46mph to 60mph and then down into the 30's. At this point I realize something's not quite right (ya' think?), pull in the clutch, give Dave, who is now a bit ahead of me a signal that I've got a problem and ease on over to the very narrow shoulder (luckily we had made it past the county line...the previous county we had travelled through has no shoulder at all on this highway...not good when you have to pull over on a motorcycle). While it seems like there was a lot going on, this all happened in a matter of seconds. Once I got to the shoulder, I put it in neutral, but kept the clutch pulled in just in case (just in case it decided it wanted to jump into gear and take off!!!). Dave had made his way back to me at this point and asked me about what happened. I explained to him in detail (making a short story long again) and he had kind of a puzzled look. He asked me if I had heard any "bad" sounds or noise, bad meaning like something metallic or clunky (or expensive!), indicating a possible breakdown in the engine or transmission, to which I said no...nothing but the whooshing sound. He asked me to give the throttle a little twist and the engine responded as did the rpm gauge. We decided to go ahead and try to make our way to the restaurant with the thought that it was possibly just a temporary electrical short (this happened once before only the bike kept moving at speed, but my gauges went crazy). So, I put the bike in gear, gave the throttle a little twist and simultaneously let out the clutch...but nothing. Again, the engine revved, but I wasn't going anywhere. Great!!! We're 40 miles from home on a fairly busy two lane highway with narrow shoulders and my bike doesn't want to go! There were 3 options: (1) I ride Dave's bike back to the house and hook up the trailer while he waits with my bike., (2) I ride on the back of Dave's bike and we both go back to get the trailer leaving my bike unattended or (3) Dave rides back alone and I wait with the bike. I decided #1 wasn't a good option since I can only touch my tippy toes to the ground when I sit on Dave's bike (my bike had to be lowered 2 inches so I can ride it) and I had this dreadful image of me dumping his bike at a stop sign cause I put my toes down in sand or gravel and lost my footing. Plus, I'd have to hook up to the trailer and find all the straps...Dave would have been waiting a long time. As far as I was concerned #2 was also out because I really didn't want to leave my bike unattended. It's 10 years old and paid off so it's not insured. It's not that its worth a lot (other than a lot of sentimental value...it was Dave's before mine), but replacing it would be expensive. Just too many trucks with trailers going up and down this highway...real easy to snatch the bike. So, I chose #3. Dave handed me his pocket knife (just in case...you can never be too safe) and headed off for home. I set my stopwatch when he left just so I would have an idea of how long he was gone. I figured he would be back within 1 1/2 hours. Well, it got really lonely, really quick, but I tried real hard not to look at my stopwatch as I didn't want to be disappointed in how little time had passed. Then came the distraction, which also scared me...a little. I could hear hogs (like wild hogs...the ones that have big sharp tusks) on the opposite side of the highway. Isn't this turning into an interesting little adventure? So, I wasted time gathering sticks and rocks that I could throw at them if they broke the brush line! Once Dave got back to the house (he made it back home in less than 30 minutes) he called me to make sure I was okay and let me know he was had the trailer and was on the way. I told him about the hogs and he laughed, instructing me not to make pig noises so they wouldn't come over to investigate!!! Needless to say, Dave made the entire trip in about 70 minutes. We loaded up the bike, went on to breakfast and then home. Once home, Dave had the problem diagnosed in minutes. The washer that goes between the nut and the front sprocket has a small tab that folds over the nut so if vibrations cause the nut to loosen, it won't be able to come unscrewed to the point where it can't keep the sprocket in place. This tab had somehow broken off and allowed the nut to become unscrewed and the sprocket stopped moving. Dave fixed it, and we had a nice ride the next morning. I'm so glad he's so good with the bikes 'cause taking them to a shop means lots of $!

My poor bike! Such a sad site!

Why am I smiling you ask considering the situation? Well, its not raining, the sun isn't blazing, and the hogs are staying on the other side of the road!

Dave checking to make sure all the straps are tight!

All loaded up and ready to go...to breakfast!

On the road again...just not the way we expected!

Monday, September 14, 2009

My First Horseback Riding Lesson!

On Saturday I had my first riding lesson with my neighbor, Jeanette, on her cutting horse, CC. I may have mentioned that I used to ride her old (he's about 27 years old now) palomino, Caesar, who was bombproof. I use the term "ride" loosely as he was much like a trail horse, and would follow the horse ahead or beside him. Needless to say, it didn't take much effort on my part, although my neighbor had given me a run down on the basics. I stopped riding when Caesar became lame and wasn't ready to step up to either of the other horses she had at the time. To make a long story short (or as Dave always says, with me it's making a short story long!), she's been asking me to ride again for some time, so I finally broke down several weeks ago and told her I would ride with her, but only if she game me some formal lessons. I decided that this time around I was also going to wear a helmet. While my cowboy hat would look a lot cooler, I like my brain just the way it is...intact! Unfortunately, I was never around horses when I was younger and started riding at a point in my life where reasoning and cold hard facts are part of decision making (like...being in the saddle is pretty far off the ground and falling off could really hurt me). Oh, how I envy those who started riding during that time in their life when you don't really know enough to be afraid!!! I have to say, I did feel a lot more at ease with the helmet. She started off by giving me some instructions on the basics like how you have to have movement before you can give direction and how horses move away from pressure. While this all makes sense, for me, it some times takes a bit to put theory into practice! Riding doesn't come natural to me...I have to think about my seat, remember to keep my hands still, my toes out and heels down. And for some reason, I want to use my thighs instead of my calves to give the horse it's cues! I also want to "drive" with my hands...it just seems more natural to give the horse direction by using the reins than by applying pressue with my calves. I've found that I have the same tendency in riding horses that I do in riding motorcycles...when making a turn or changing direction, I look at the ground directly ahead instead of in the direction I want to go (they tell you in the motorcycle safety class that you should actually turn your head in the direction you want to go, not just shift your eyes...theory is you will go in the direction your head is pointed and eyes are looking). As the lesson went on it became a little easier. I rode for about an hour, just at a walk (I didn't want to add speed before I had direction down to a science!) and did circles and figure eights. I also learned how to back up. All in all it was a good day. I was happy with my progress and my neighbor said I did well. I finished up with putting CC on the wash rack and hosing her down. I also finally learned how to put a rope halter on. I've seen them around the tack room, but could never make any sense of them. If I had to put a halter on one of the horses for any reason, I always looked for one with a buckle...very obvious how it goes on and is secured! Yesterday, my neighbor was taking Doc, her reiner, out for some exercise and asked if I wanted to ride CC. I figured, what the heck...a little more time in the saddle and it was just for a lap or two around the block. I used everything I learned the day before, and we actually trotted for a short distance. I was glad to find out CC actually has a very comfortable trot. My neighbor also had me do a little exercise to help enforce the theory of how the horses move away from pressure. As we walked down the street, which was a straight line as opposed to the circles and figure eights of the day before, she had me apply pressure with alternating legs to get CC to move back and forth across the street in a zig-zag pattern. It just seemed to make it so much more clear...maybe because it was easier to see and feel her respond while walking in a straight line than when going in a circle. I'm looking forward to the next lesson or mini trail ride. If the weather holds out, we may try to squeeze some time in after work this week, otherwise it won't be until the weekend. Jeanette actually has a cutting show she is entering on Friday evening. It's actually just a jackpot, but she wants to make sure she's tuned up and ready so I don't want my lessons to get in the way of that!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Creepy Critters

Living in a rural area leads us to crossing paths with lots of critters. These are some of the more creepy ones we've come across recently!
This snake was "hiding" on the trap door to the pool filter. I had reached in to pull out the basket and out he came from the door. I didn't scream, but I must have jumped about 2 feet of the ground!!! We usually see a lot of black snakes around the yard, which are basically harmless, but this guy was pretty scary. The diamond shaped markings lead us to believe he was a pygmy rattler.
Dave just about met this banana spider face to face! We were riding our ATVs in northern Florida on a trail that apparently hadn't been ridden in a while. At the last second, Dave noticed the spider web and was able to stop. Dave knocked down the web with his "spider web stick" (the discarded piece of picket fence in the pic) but the spider wound up on the front of his ATV...so of course, we had to snap a picture!!!
Anyone that knows me knows I don't particularly care for frogs...ESPECIALLY tree frogs. For whatever reason, they always want to jump on me...and they're sticky...and they usually leave bodily fluids behind (are ya' getting the picture?). This one was hanging out on the light at the front of the house catching bugs. I didn't notice him until I had passed right by the light. They have the ability to take on the color of their environment so that freaks me out even more 'cause I never notice them until it's too late.
These turkey vultures were on the side of the road fighting over some roadkill. Pretty gross, but essential to the environment. I can't even imagine what the roads would be like and what the stench would be if these birds weren't so efficient. This was the bird I had mentioned in a previous post about almost hitting while we were on the motorcycles.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hot Off the Bench

Here are the latest creations from my studio. I was really hoping to get more done since we had the long weekend, but there were so many other things going on. And then there was our attempt at a Sunday morning ride...more about that in another post. All of these items are currently available in my Etsy shop. I really like working with copper and am hoping to try my hand at cold connections and riveting this week. I've been putting it off a little though because I prefer to oxidize the copper instead of leaving it in it's natural state. When I was making the hammered disk bracelet, I opened my jar of liver of sulfur and it was bad...all dried up. Luckily, I was able to get just enough out of it to complete this bracelet. This is the second time the chunk form has dried up on me before I was able to use it all. I've ordered a new product from Cool Tools...a gel form of liver of sulfur that's supposed to have a really long shelf life. Once I've had the chance to try it out, I'll post about it. I've had these large round peach quartz beads forever, and couldn't come up with a design for them...until I bought the brass leaf beadcaps...then...bingo...it all came together! Funny how that happens. I have beads I bought years ago that still haven't found there way into a project, but their day is coming. Not the case with tiger's eye though. I love the way tiger's eye looks with sterling silver. I've also taken a liking to the peanut shaped beads. When I first saw them at a bead show, I passed on them thinking, "what in the heck am I going to do with a bead shaped like that"! Well, when you nestle a bunch of them together, they make for a pretty neat design. I'd really like to keep this one for myself, as I wear a lot of brown, but I promised Dave I would stop with the "one for me, one for the shop" thing I had going on for a while! I'm quite a bit behind in posting supplies in my shop, but here's one strand that will be posted before the night's over. I found these lampwork beads in several different shapes and colors at a bead show. I only bought a few strands, and was kicking myself for it later. Then I realized the vendor I bought them from has a store in northern Florida, so on a recent trip to my sister's, I wandered into town to visit the bead store...and bought every strand they had!!! Of course, Dave's reaction was "Do you really need more beads"?! Luckily, he understands my bead addiction and will be happy to see I've listed two of the strands (the other is a strand of aqua colored rectangles).