Glass. Cats. Dance. Not a bad life, at that. Thu, 28 Jul 2016 03:30:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Political Thoughts, Part 1 — How I Think, 2016 Version Thu, 28 Jul 2016 03:17:40 +0000 Continue reading →]]> (Oh, my poor neglected little blog, it’s sad that it took this to bring me back to you. But social media doesn’t provide the space I need for these thoughts.)

A couple of weeks ago, one of my former students openly challenged me, not once but twice, on my posting of numerous anti-Trump/anti-conservative-agenda memes via Facebook while not posting any anti-Clinton/anti-liberal-agenda ones. Aside from the obvious retort that it’s my damn Facebook timeline and I’ll post what I want (as opposed to what others might prefer to see), I thought it was worth clarifying how I think this year.

First of all, I tend to be somewhat apolitical, more out of disgust than apathy. Both major political parties annoy me on a quite regular basis. From my perspective, there is more than enough cronyism, self-serving dealings, lack of transparency, and downright corruption to go around at federal, state, and local levels. The current election cycle has forced me to take a good, hard look at candidates and platforms, though, because I believe this cycle to be critical.

I am registered to vote, but not as a member of either political party. I usually vote in Republican primaries because, given where I live, in the second belt-hole of the Bible Belt, that’s where I can make a difference. If there were one thing I could enact to improve our political system, it would be Congressional term limits with NO cushy K Street lobbyist jobs afterwards. Back to the Real World with you!! If I could have a second thing, it would be to repeal Citizens United — a nasty, disgusting little piece of work if I ever saw one.

I have long considered myself fiscally conservative — spend money where it needs to be spent, spend it wisely, and don’t waste it — and socially liberal — if nobody’s being hurt by it, it’s not a problem. I don’t see a lot of today’s issues as black or white. They are gray, gray, many shades of gray. I also believe in personal responsibility above almost everything else, which makes things interesting. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from the consequences of that speech. Freedom of religion doesn’t mean the freedom to impose that religion on others. I could go on, and maybe I will at some point, but you’re probably getting the idea.

This year’s presidential race is contentious, controversial, and potentially catastrophic. Of course I have thoughts on both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump; in fact I’m going to give each of them their own blog post over the next couple of days.


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43 Things is Gone, But I Retrieved My List Wed, 11 Mar 2015 05:04:11 +0000 Continue reading →]]> I didn’t realize it, but 43 Things went away at the first of the year. Somehow I never got any notification, so never knew to export my data there. But fear not, the Wayback Machine had me covered! I was able to copy it from here, and am pasting it here for posterity even though it isn’t a full 43 Things, and I’ve actually accomplished some of them in the meantime! I did omit the entries, cheers, and number of people with the same goal because, well, none of those matter anymore with the original site gone. The important thing is the list, after all.

Art of the Firebird’s Life List

Number Thing Current Status
1. Be a glass artist I’d say I’m a glass artist by now, and a jewelry artist, and still growing at it.
2. Become a better bellydancer Working on it — joined a troupe, perform regularly, and take multiple classes a week plus workshops when appropriate.
3. Lose 25 pounds If anything, negative progress. I do eat mostly healthy and clean but the weight does not come off. I have to wonder if it’s a combination of thyroid, insulin resistance, and the antidepressant sabotaging me. I don’t care what Big Pharma says, I put the weight back on after I started the antidepressant and it just does not budge!
4. Exercise regularly That’s the dance, but I need to do more, walking and strength training in particular.
5. Keep up with my journal Blogging & social media have pretty much replaced my journal, but I should make time for it as well.
6. Be a better blogger Two blogs, both neglected. Tsk tsk.
7. Keep my studio organized and clean Oh jeez. Don’t even go there, especially because I have to store most of the “show stuff” in there as well.
8. Minimize existing clutter and excess possessions An ongoing effort to say the least.
9. Learn PHP and MySQL Learned some, not enough.
10. Learn to use my digital camera Not enough, though I am getting better with my smartphone camera.
11. Make a zine Nothing but a few ideas.
12. Create a home inventory Still need to get on that.
13. Compile a 100-things-about-me list I’m up to, what, 65 now?
14. Become a better photographer Nope.
15. Learn CPR DONE as of September 2014!
16. Never stop learning This is not a goal to ever complete, if you think about it.
17. Draw every day Nope–but I really should at least draw out the jewelry designs I come up while on the spinalator at the chiropractor’s office.
18. Walk a labyrinth No, but no reason I can’t do this one.I just need to do it.
19. Be a better web designer Enh, maybe.
20. Relax Tard relax
21. Read all the books in my “must read” pile HAHAHAHAHA!!!
22. See the northern lights Nope
23. Manage my finances better Progress, not perfection.
24. Promote my website Mostly delegated at the moment for the business site.
25. Make a will, living will, and last wishes document This REALLY needs to get done!
26. Make my own bellydance costumes Does a tribal bra count?

Do realize, mind you, that I HAVE done other things that were not on the list and that I neglected to add to it as they came to pass. I started a business, learned chainmaille and knitting, started drumming and co-curated a digital textbook among other things. So it’s not as bad as the list looks.

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In This Place Sun, 22 Jun 2014 23:13:52 +0000 Continue reading →]]>

Layne Redmond

Have you ever found yourself at a place, or an event, where you were uncomfortable and felt like you didn’t quite  belong, but yet you KNEW you were supposed to be there?

Today at the Asheville Percussion Festival, a memorial Celebration of Life for Layne Redmond closed out the three-day event. I never met Layne. I only know her through her book, When the Drummers Were Women, which I added to my library and  read through long before I finally began to learn to drum, plus a handful of YouTube videos. The room was full of those who had been her friends, her students, people with some sort of personal connection to her. I had none.

But when the prior workshop ended and I thought about leaving, I didn’t. I moved my seat and my drums away from the front of the room, but I stayed in the room. When everyone sang, I sang. When everyone joined the processional, drums playing, out to the waterfall, I thought again about leaving, but instead I pulled out my deyereh, bought just the previous day, and joined in. I played through the ceremony, while Layne’s ashes were passed in their bowl from person to person, scattered to the four corners of the Serenity Garden, and eventually given to the waterfall. I said my own blessing and goodbye to her spirit as the bowl came to me, though I never knew her in this world. I did not leave until everything ended and everyone began to go their way back out into the world.

Maybe the only reason I was compelled to stay was to bless and charge my new drum? Maybe it was simply to acknowledge Layne’s influence, however small and remote, on me? Whatever. There was some powerful energy moving at OM Sanctuary in Asheville this weekend, crescendoing to a climax this afternoon, and I was a teeny weeny little mote of a part of it, for whatever reason.


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List Me, Baby! Wed, 05 Mar 2014 05:20:36 +0000 Continue reading →]]> (C4ward March Blogathon Day 4)

Five Goals to Achieve Sometime Before I Die

  1. Create jewelry items that tribal dancers buy, love, and wear while performing.
  2. Perform a solo at a major bellydance event like TribalCon.
  3. Travel to New Zealand, and maybe Australia too. DH & I don’t really care that much for travel, but we could make an exception for this.
  4. Become an ATS® Sister Studio and/or Gypsy Caravan Collective Soul Certified dancer
  5. See the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Just because.

Five Goals to Accomplish in the Next Five Years to Move Towards Achieving The Above Goals

  1. Keep learning new jewelry skills and honing the ones I already have.
  2. Have professional photographs made of my work for advertising and festival entry purposes.
  3. Research New Zealand  & Australia to determine where to go and what to do while there.
  4. Attend and perform at as many bellydance events as possible, either solo or with a troupe.
  5. Take at least two of the Collective Soul certification levels and/or retake ATS® General Skills and Teacher Training I.

Five Goals to Accomplish in the Next 12 MONTHS… as if it were the last year of my life!

  1. Take as many ATS® classes as possible.
  2. Get the Gypsy Caravan DVDs and start working with them.
  3. Perform at least one solo at Oasis, Open Mic Night, or Northside Tribe’s own show.
  4. Draw up a will!!!! (gotta be practical somewhere)
  5. Make sure my husband and son (at least) know how much I love them.

What I Noticed when Making the Above Three Lists

  1. None of the items had anything to do with my profession as a college professor. Basically, I’ve achieved every feasible goal there and I’m just maintaining status quo.
  2. Setting goals for my little nanobusiness of making jewelry is HARD because I don’t want to turn it into a career per se. I don’t want to get so serious about it that it takes the fun out of creating stuff.
  3. Tangible goals for my bellydancing hobby is easy enough because I’m such a newbie at it; the problem is that my age is working against me there.
  4. Some practical things really should not be put off.
  5. There’s a lot of DO-ing on the list, but in truth, I wouldn’t have to do any of these things except #5 (and #4 for practical reasons) on the 12-month list, and I’d be happy.
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Sharing My Favorite Creative Work Wed, 05 Mar 2014 04:22:31 +0000 Continue reading →]]> (C4ward March Blogathon Day 3 post, a day late because Monday is my insanely long day with no breathing room)

What should I show as my favorite creative work? In what area did I DO my favorite creative work?

Was it this pair of chainmaille earrings?

Sterling & Niobium Chainmaille Earrings

Sterling & Niobium Chainmaille Earrings

Or these earrings made from one of my favorite pairs of lampworked beads?

Lampworked glass bead earrings

Lampworked glass bead earrings

Was it this paper I did for my first art class on German artist Käthe Kollwitz?

Käthe Kollwitz image

Käthe Kollwitz Self-Portrait

Or perhaps the debut performance of the dance troupe to which I belong at TribalCon last month?

I can’t decide!!


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Five Year Plan? What Five Year Plan? Mon, 03 Mar 2014 01:54:36 +0000 Continue reading →]]>

C4ward March Blogathon: Day 2 Prompt

“Where” is your creative work going? Envision yourself and your work five years or more from now.

  • Who are you and what do you see your work as “being”?
  • How is your work “evolving” and “becoming”?
  • What about your work inspires you? Inspires others?
  • Where are you going and what are you doing after this (five-year) point in the future?

The truth? I don’t have any kind of a five-year plan, artistic or business. I tend to have Artistic Attention Deficit Disorder (AADD) so what I am creating at any moment is based on what medium I feel like working in at that point and what I am inspired to create with the tools and materials available.

When I create jewelry, whether it be the glass beads & pendants, the chainmaille, or the odd mixed media concoctions, I’m trying to create items that are edgily wearable, or would that be wearably edgy? I want to create your “go-to” piece of adornment, the one that you automatically reach for whether you are wearing jeans or a business suit or a little black dress. I want to create the unique piece that becomes a part of YOU, the piece that, when other people see it. they know it’s perfect for you, and maybe the perfect piece for them is there as well.

Hunh. How about that?

My work evolves rather organically, driven by improvements in skill and technique, availability of materials, and (though it sounds rather “fluffy”) what I’m feeling from the Universe. I no longer particularly try to direct it (been there, doesn’t work). Ideas and inspiration come from many places — some of the best from my customers! — and will often have to percolate for a while before they can be attended to. Some of the best pieces both my business partner & I have made have been ones where we’ll see a bead or a component that the other made and it will trigger something in our own brain:

Shawl Pin

Pin created by Andrea, bead by Julia

Thinking about this, I don’t feel any urge to worry about where I’ll be artistically in five years, or ten years, or however long I keep at this. I only feel the urge to keep an open mind and keep experimenting.

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C4ward March Blogathon Day 1 Sun, 02 Mar 2014 01:17:10 +0000 Continue reading →]]> On a whim I decided to participate in this challenge — blog every day for two weeks, with prompts given, about my creative journey. I’m doing it here, on my personal site, rather than on Copper Dancer Designs or Thursday Nights at Windy Hill, because I choose not to limit myself to one aspect of my polymath life for this project.

Today’s prompt:

Tell us the big “why” behind the creative work you do.  Here are a few questions to consider as you write:

  • Why do you exist?
  • What is your purpose here on this earth?
  • How would you express the “why” behind your creative work in a few short sentences?
  • What do you want to be remembered for?
  • Can you think of three or more key words that embody the reason why you create art?
  • If you were to write a short, memorable, and inspirational t-shirt message about the purpose or mission for your creative work, what would it say?

Well, I suppose I do my creative work because I can’t NOT do it. I’ve always created, even if it was just somewhere inside my head. My hands, especially, always have to be doing something, whether it’s creating program code, jewelry, socks, words, pound cakes, or drum beats. Creating stuff brings me inner peace and seems to bring others little bits of beauty and enjoyment — not a bad thing at all!

Why do I exist and what is my purpose here on earth? I don’t know that yet, and honestly, I don’t think it really matters to me on a day to day basis. Especially as I get older, I try not to spend too much time getting all existential about my existence. I’m here, I’m learning and growing and doing the best I can, trying to share what I learn and provide an example that perhaps others can find helpful. As I get older, I’m learning to be more in the moment and less about the unknowable. How people remember me after I’m gone is the same as what people think of me today — none of my business and out of my control. So I don’t spend energy being concerned about it. I’d rather create and just put it out there.

“Create for yourself; share it with the world.”


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So, What D&D Character Am I? (meme) Thu, 08 Aug 2013 20:13:31 +0000 Continue reading →]]> I Am A: Neutral Good Human Wizard (6th Level)

Ability Scores:

Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard’s strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

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Celebrities vs. Politics Wed, 03 Jul 2013 03:06:11 +0000 Continue reading →]]> Last Tuesday night I had been one of the 180,000+ viewers, via YouTube, of State Senator Wendy Davis’s epic filibuster against the Texas abortion regulation bill. Wednesday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court had issued its rulings overturning California Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, two days after they gutted major provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In other words, the past few days had seen some very significant political and judicial action.

Wednesday night after dance class I was chatting in the parking lot with several classmates and our teacher. They barely had any idea of any of the political news of the past few days — in fact one of them flatly stated that she never listened to the news any more because it was too depressing. What were they completely up to date on and animatedly discussing? Paula Dean’s woes and Kim & Kanye’s baby.

Paula Dean. Kim Kardashian. Seriously. In no way are the behaviors, and misbehaviors, of any celebrity likely to ever affect our lives.  True, abortion rights and gay rights may not ever directly affect my classmates, or those close to them. But there is a far greater likelihood that those legal actions will be personally significant  some day.

We need to devote our attention and energy to the important things that affect the world, not the train wrecks of people that just happen to be Famous (with a capital F).



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WordCamp Atlanta 2012 Sat, 11 Feb 2012 04:05:19 +0000 Continue reading →]]> I’ve decided that most professional conferences are, as far as I am concerned, not really worth it for me. I’m far more interested in improving my technical knowledge than listening to a bunch of educators blather about what is the most appropriate pedagogical approach to computing, or in listening to a different bunch of academics blather about some esoteric aspect of computing with no practical application to anyone’s life or work.

So I love WordCamp because I can hang out with fellow geeks and learn WordPress and web design stuff I can actually USE on an everyday basis to make my teaching, my business, and my volunteer work better. Both WordCamp Atlanta events that I’ve been at have been held at SCAD Atlanta, which is really a great facility, and have been well organized and run by an all-volunteer staff. Most of the sessions I attended this year were in the designer or developer tracks because I was interested in more technical information, but there are always many good presentations for beginners and non-technical users as well.

Plus no one blinks when they see you sitting there knitting while you wait for the next session to start!

If you’d like to see a little of what I learned, Marna Friedman has collected most of the presentations from the event on the Northwest Atlanta WordPress Meetup site. We heard also that plans are in the works for the second WordCamp Savannah to be held this May, so you have an opportunity there to experience this for yourself.

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