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We are having a pretty spring, after such a warm winter I expected everything to be past blooming too early. Some things, yes, but still have a lot of pretty gardens. We are not back to fully average rainfall yet, after a full 12 months of severe drought, but it is improved.

First of all, health: I am no longer getting physical therapy for my shoulder (insurance company doesn’t want to pay for more). At least since I worked hard at it, my range of motion for all but one direction is about 90% of the good arm. I am working to strengthen, even back to my regular strength sessions. I really appreciate the advice and work of the therapists, I will continue to improve. Rotator cuff repairs are certainly complex and take too long for recovery for my impatience.

Addition: I am working to get all the details ready for the new dome, finding it surprisingly hard to find anyone to install radiators for heat. I moved from a climate where they were common, but here the heat pump rules. I just don’t find it to be all that comfortable, especially at floor level. Next on my list is looking for flooring locally. My first choice at present is cork, with bamboo second. Both are very eco-friendly for sustainability, and I like the looks. I do have plans to visit a Kryton supplier in Charlotte – this is a substance that should waterproof the concrete on the seams of my dome. I will have to rely on the elastomeric paint (which has done a good job) on the current part, but I hope the new part won’t have any leak problems after freeze/heat weather cycles.

Sad news, my pretty grey tabby has been ailing for the past 6 months, and just kept losing weight. I had to have him put down last week, he just went too far downhill. He was 15 years old. Suspect he had a tumor in the digestive system. I plan to plant a bearded iris over him, seems appropriate since he had a little tuft of longer hair under the chin, like a goatee.

I’m still working a little every day on my chain maille jewelry. I’ve been surprised at how much wrist action affects the whole arm. It has been good additional therapy on the shoulder. I have made a few commissioned items and am working on new weaves. I hope to sell some at a show this summer.

Next door: Sharon is on her last term as a schoolbus driver to supplement her pension. Hooray! She and a friend have been working to start a small plant business. Her friend has a greenhouse and Sharon has the location on a busy highway to be able to sell from her front yard. They have a lot of plants ready now.
Sharon is also busy getting all the testing done on her one year old Goldendoodle female who will be bred later this year. There is a lot of work involved getting accepted in GANA, well respected breeder group, but worth it for buyers to know they are getting a very good dog.

We are staying busy here.


Catching up on the Blog

I know it has been quite a while since my last posting – little happening for a while and then really busy.

Earlier this year, I decided to use the rest of this year’s 401k allowance and pay off my Roanoke mortgage. It is so nice to be down to one mortgage.

I have relaxed about getting things completed on my Roanoke house, giving me more time to enjoy it and visit friends and places I like around town. Major cleaning is done, except windows, and scrubbing the basement floor. Maybe I can even improve the front landscape, since I have a neighbor minding the it and can keep it watered. The market is still slow, but gradually improving. I will give it a little longer to see where it is this fall.

There had been a tiny leak in my water line in Seneca. It kept getting worse, by about a 1000 gallons more each month. After many trips, much digging, and additions of shut-off valves to identify the problem section, Doug finally found a small lengthwise split in a pipe. As the water pressure built up, it would open and let out a drip, relieving pressure. I also had another round of pipe breaking at joints, and the solution, which seems to be working, is a pressure reduction valve. I miss the incredible water pressure, but I also hated being without water for a few days with every break.

Chain Maille:
No luck in my work being chosen for the magazine, but I’ll submit for future issues.

table view 1

eyeglass leashes, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets

AG table3

other rack, same items











I’m a member of Mensa, and the AG (annual gathering) was held in Louisville, KY this year. I attended and even had a table in the Marketplace for the Friday and Saturday that it was open. This is a long-standing tradition to allow members who create things, to display and sell their wares. It is generally a good venue with lots of sales, but you also have to decide not to attend programs, which are generally good. I was happy with the amount I sold, more than 10% of my inventory, and I even got a couple of commissions to send out later.

I had realized there were quite a few jewelry artists, so I started looking for items I could make that were different, I did well with bookmarks, eyeglass leashes, and keychains; not quite so with battery operated candles. I now have a few more ideas for future items, providing I find certain supplies. I was happy with what I used as a display, but am now thinking of improvements, of course. My mother was always looking for a better way to do things, and I learned from her.

AG table2

table view with keychains, bookmarks, and candles

My next commission is for a friend attending her niece’s steampunk wedding this fall. I will make her a pair of handflowers, including some steampunk elements, like small gears. As info, a handflower is a bracelet attached to a decorative element on the back of the hand, ending in a loop around a finger to hold it. Lots of examples that people have done, and I have designed a couple myself. These need to follow a close measurement for each person, so probably will always be commissioned pieces.

lavender handflower

lavender handflower – top goes around finger, bottom around wrist

I am still not too excited about setting up a table at various markets in the area. Maybe Sharon and I can come up with a joint venture for sales. I think my introverted nature makes me reluctant to do sales and meet strangers, I can, but have to force myself.

I got a Square reader for credit card sales and loved it. This is a well designed app, easy for someone, who is minding the booth while you have lunch, to complete a sale. Of course there is a small fee, but no more than Etsy charges. I am starting to re-think my online sites, may go entirely to my website and leave the Etsy store. First, I need to catch up with taking and posting pictures online. I got way behind while trying to build inventory for the Marketplace. Then I need to study making it a secure site.

I finally tried using Everbright to seal my cleaned copper pieces and prevent darkening as they are worn. It seems to do a good job, as even Sharon has not turned the copper earrings I tested for her. Her chemistry reacts fast, mine does not. Of course, now I have requests for non-treated raw copper for bracelets. I can do either.

Photo Contest and Jewelry Submissions

Well, now to wait and see if my jewelry catches the eyes of a magazine staff. There may be others that are a lot better, and I may not be a good enough photographer to properly highlight my work, but I have tried. There is a twice-yearly publication (Wirework) that Bead and Button magazine group publishes. They called for contributions, photos of final work and work-in-progress. If they select a piece for the magazine, the piece will be sent to them. The decisions and notifications will occur this month of March.

my earrings entry

my earrings entry

I sent pictures of a pair of earrings that I really like, using anodized aluminum rings and faceted beads. I like both the blue and the bronze that I have made, but decided the bronze was my favorite. I also made a necklace similar to one I wear a lot, a rainbow of colors with a dark neutral, black for my original and for the entry, I used bronze. I wanted to vary the ring by using a square wire ring for more sparkle, and did not have black. I also have developed a tutorial of an easier (for me) way to construct the weave. I am so pleased with the result, it has such a rich look.

my necklace entry

my necklace entry

Now I wait and hope. It would be a great visibility for my work ( ), and would keep my interest in ring work.

I hope my brother’s luck/skill continues on with me. He had a photo selected in a contest, and it will be featured Monday, March 9 on the cover of the website. He has taken some wonderful vacation pictures, and this is one from a photo safari in Botswana. He loves travel and has been to some beautiful places. Check it out If it is not March 9, you can find it by clicking on Top 250, then going to the 10th page (it is alphabetic), and looking for Dale Woods.

The month of February has been miserable weather. Although it was much colder north of SC, I am used to this and do not care for single digit temps. We had one bad ice storm and dodged a heavy snowfall during this time, too. A prediction of up to 8 inches ended being nearly an inch as the front held warmer temps in our area. I have not been able to get back to Roanoke, as the weather there has been quite bad. I want to make sure the driveway has melted and I can get to my house. The snow shovel is there in the garage, not much help when I’m not. I hope to go in another week or two. I am determined to have the place show-ready with one more visit. It is time to end physical ties to Roanoke and start enlarging this house.

I’m Back to Work

This has been a rather busy time for me. I have finally gotten things all pulled together to set up a shop to sell my chain maille jewelry. I have taken some webinars, read books, practiced photography – a whole new area but very important to have decent pictures for potential customers. Jewelry is kind of a specialty. I will always be learning and taking lots of shots.

I couldn’t even order business cards until I decided on a name, set up a store and a website, everything I might want printed. This involved culling and uploading pictures, taking care of descriptions, including measurements of pieces. The website is actually a blog site, and I adapted it to how I wanted the site to flow – or nearly how I wanted it. I am still going to work on it.

As I was getting near to setting up a shop on Etsy, my computer died, the motherboard – so I had to buy a new computer and transfer old data – lots of pictures – and figure out how to use Win 8.1 operating system. I rather like it, but there was a surprising learning curve. (Another delay) It seems Microsoft is aiming to keep the pc, tablet, and smart phones more standard. The PC did not come loaded with as much as it used to be, but it has easy access to online stores to download apps (many free). I read recently that 81% of the country now has online access, so we are now relying on it to download software and upload and store data in the Cloud. Once I realized there was still the desktop, but the start bar had changed (improved, in my opinion) to a full-page, with better links to other programs and websites, I have enjoyed using it.

Little by little, I am getting more accomplished, but less actual jewelry making. I will be happy to get back to that soon. I am pleased with the business cards. I decided to design my own, with a background I photographed and faded to allow print to be readable. Since all my locations are nearly the same name, it is a little redundant, but it does get my name across.

business card

So, this is it, my shop is open. As it shows on the cards:
my Etsy store is
my website is
I am keeping pictures of all of my inventory on the website, and since it is set up like a blog, the newest entries will show up first. I am putting more items in the Etsy shop, but it takes a while to fill out the form, so it will be gradual. I would appreciate anyone spreading the word, and I will do custom pieces as my material inventory and knowledge allow.

Visits and generally busy

I’ve been neglecting my blog, but I have been busy – as all retirees seem to be. I was back to Roanoke to work on the house and see friends. I learned just before I left that I’d be there for another retirement lunch, so I got to see a lot of old friends then. I saw other friends at various times while I was there. I did finish clearing closets, except for my bedroom, which I plan to leave with some items in it. Since I took one cat with me, I did not get the basement stairs painted. Last time I did it, I ended up with a couple of cat foot prints on the basement floor. It will be easier without an animal around.

I got back to Seneca and started cleaning and getting ready for my family visit. All siblings and spouses gathered in Seneca for our annual reunion – they were curious about what pulled me away from Roanoke after all these years. We had a good time, and even got a trip to visit our aunt and uncle in TN and one to the other aunt and uncle who were packing to leave N GA for FL. I had collected lots of brochures from the welcome center, and four of them discovered a nearby zipline tour and spent a day there. The other sister and I had an afternoon to chat on the porch. The weather changed the day after they arrived, to Fall temperatures, especially at night, making for good porch-sitting time. They were all used to much less humidity, in spite of it feeling dry to me. One evening we visited the campground where Alice and Rich stayed, to see their new camping trailer. It is very nice, more luxury than either of the travel trailers I lived in for a few years. Talked a lot, ate a lot, and just had a pleasant week. All safely home again.

zipline sibs

I just switched to Medicare. Wow, the number of companies who flood you with mail about the supplemental plans – I have a stack over 6 inches high. Thankfully my former employer hired a consulting firm to help us through the confusion, and I have selected a plan that should work best for me. Best part is that this plan handles the Medicare side, so I only worry about submitting to them. I remember what a mess my mother had with 2 insurances submissions, especially after they switched to have her secondary handle Medicare. I wonder how medical providers keep any of it straight. Of course, they don’t always. I remember it taking me nearly a year after my mother passed away before I got things straightened out.

I am still working on getting a business together online, but one day before long I will be selling my jewelry. It has surprised me how much really needs to be decided and started before I even order business cards. I am trying to be very methodical about it, and to follow advice about what has worked well for others, even if I only want an outlet for my hobby, not full-time. That makes it easier when the government gets involved at tax time. I want to earn enough to pay for my supplies, maybe a small travel fund. I have a lot of photography to work through my completed pieces, and I am trying to learn the best way to shoot without glare. This is another whole hobby to pick up. I am working on a website, a Facebook page, and will have an Etsy store.

header pic

Jewelry Weaves by Donna

I am soon to trek back to Roanoke for a final cleaning, staging, paint touch-ups. I hope I find a realtor to list it for what I want to ask, as I think I have enough upgrades and it will present itself really well, that I should be at the high end for this size house.

What I Have Done Lately

Amazing how little I can do when my back hurts. Yes, it has been bothering me this week, and my chiropractor was away to a conference for a long weekend. I got adjusted and feel a lot better. Next I finish sorting through the boxes I brought back with me, to decide what will be stored in the loft – hopefully most of it. However, I do need to label things well, as these will be out of my reach for a while, and if I send someone up the ladder to find something, it will have to be marked.

set for charity auction

set for charity auction

I have been working on my jewelry. I made a necklace and earring set for Sharon to put into a charity auction for her dog rescue group. I also made myself a necklace for an upcoming wedding. I have had such positive feedback about my beads and rings items – chain maille enhanced with beads – that I will be setting up to sell it. I just have not yet decided where: online, local stores, or both. I need more inventory before that, so am gradually building it. I am a hobbyist, not full-time.

my jewelry for wedding

my jewelry for wedding

I need to start studying supplemental insurance for Medicare, as I am eligible this fall and my company benefits change this year, requiring me to pick a supplemental policy. I am certainly getting a lot of mail on the subject. I guess our birth dates are easily found. I already knew AARP knows when you are nearly eligible.

I ordered a new (refurbished) phone, so I will have a SC number soon, in addition to VA. I hope I can get everyone to change my entry to a new number – both personal and business – before I drop the old number. I plan to keep it until the old house sells. I did get a semi-smart phone, at a very low price. Since I got a very high recommendation for one model, but don’t want to spend so much when a new one is being released this fall, I figure this is a temporary one, and gives me a smaller learning curve.

I am so looking forward to the next trip to Roanoke, to finally get the house staged and on the market. From there, I will be heading for Chicago for my brother’s wedding. That will be fun.


Related to my prior posting, Solar Roadways ( is now past one-third of its goal by May 31 to reach $1,000,000 in donations for the next phase.

Puppy Break!

Last weekend was cold and rainy, I took a break from gardening tasks and had a double feature of puppies

First, my god-dog Willow who has quadrupled in size in the short 7 weeks she has been with Tom and AnnaS. She is a mini-goldendoodle multigen cross who is supposed to grow to 30-40 pound size. This was a biggie: Willow’s first playdate with my pups after finishing all of her shots. She wasn’t too sure about playing with my 2 but did work up to an aborted feint or two by the time she left. When I keep her while her parents travel, I am sure the dogs will have enough time to work out their play signals.

willow march 2014

Visit 2 e

This is Frisco – who I refer to as a micro-goldendoodle. He comes in just under 10 pounds, and was supposed to have been in the 30-40 pound range. He had quite an unsettling experience before we left. Five deer crossed the property and Frisco took off after them into the woods. With his long and very fuzzy coat, he quickly became entangled in a briar patch to the point he was immobilized. Lynne had to go into the briar patch to bring him out . We literally had to cut the briars off of him; he couldn’t even straighten up, poor thing.

He is shown here with one of my long-term fosters, Nala.  She actually outweighed him. All that fur does make him look much bigger than he is.

frisco and nala

The highlight of my puppy tour: LynneP’s 2 six week old goldendoodle multigens Scarlette and Ruby. They are both female and should in time give a great start to LynneP’s mini goldendoodle line. Someone could make a fortune designing a stasis box, so you could keep them forever at this cute stage.


PS: five flats of 4 inch pots started today, more hellebores, Rudbeckia and the alleged creeping phlox – which is actually a wildflower I think.