Monday, October 31, 2016

Beautiful Handmade Art

Today I want to introduce four more of the Rainbow Artists Team. All four of them offer beautiful handmade art in their Etsy shops.

Please meet KIT (whose real name is Kathy) of Kit's Creations. She designs unique beaded and sea glass jewelry. There is even a beaded necklace with natural driftwood pieces - this is definitely one of a kind! My favorite pieces are her beach themed home decor, like this shadow box. If I had a beach cottage, I know where I would get my decoration!

A very different art is made by Sandy of Little Canary and Co. Her art is Native American inspired, and in her shop you can find beautiful jewelry, bead work, medicine bags and quite unusual dream catchers. This one featuring a mother and her child has caught my eye and my heart.

I always love good pottery. Deborah Hager makes functional pottery with a decorative flair. It is obvious that she finds inspiration in nature, and you can see this inspiration in her beautiful bowls and dishes that she sells at Clay by Nature Pottery. This cup is my current favorite piece from her shop. Doesn't the fish look fabulous?

Bob and Pam Holt are from Louisiana where they do woodworking and work on mosaics. Their shop zzbob also sells mosaic supplies. It's a well stocked shop where you can find a lot of inspiration for your own mosaics as well as beautiful gifts. This handmade elephant bank from reclaimed wood is my personal favorite. I think it would be a great gift for a child.

I hope you enjoyed meeting these fine artists.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

When Pele Is Angry (The Volcano Part 5)

Compared to other volcanoes that like to explode and send clouds of ash and pumice into air, killing everything in its path, Kīlauea is a rather mild-mannered volcano. It mostly drools and dribbles, however on a grand scale. Whereas everywhere else on the planet people usually dread active volcanoes, in Hawai'i people drop whatever they are doing and drive out to see it (you should check out this site if you want to see the newest exciting development at the volcano). Just like so much in Hawai'i, even the volcano is laid back.

However, that doesn't mean it isn't dangerous. Lava destroys, and Kīlauea is no exception. Just ask the people of Kalapana, a historic fishing village and residential area that was wiped out by volcano goddess Pele's anger in 1990. No lives were lost, but 182 homes were swallowed by lava.

From Kalapana you have the best view of the lava coming down the slope and entering the ocean. It is not always accessible, but we were very lucky that it was no problem to get to the ocean entry and the lava flow when we were there. However, these once-in-a-lifetime views come at a price - a long hard hike. You can't just drive up to the lava, park your car and approach the flow. No, it involves a 8.5 mile roundtrip hike on a gravel road through the devastating landscape of lava. Believe me, it wasn't exactly fun.

In the parking lot at the end of Highway 130 you can rent bikes for $10.00 per hour, and many people did that. I don't think that riding a bike on gravel is easy, but it's still a bit faster than hiking through this moonscape.

There were warning signs at the start of the hike. Please note that you are not allowed to roast marshmallows on lava (would someone actually do that???).

And here we are, hiking along the gravel road. This used to be a real road before Pele consumed it. Along this road and up the slope there used to be homes. It is still all private property, and some people have come back and built some sheds on the lava or live in their camper van on their property. When you hike out to the lava you are asked to stay on the road and respect the property of the people who used to live there.

You can see that the landscape we were hiking through isn't exactly exciting or diverse. Far from it.

When you look up the slope you can see little red spots in the approaching darkness (yes, we started hiking out by 6:00 in the evening). That is lava flowing down from Pu'u 'Ō'ō vent, the origin of the current eruption (the current eruption started on January 3, 1983). You can also see the fumes creeping up the hill, but we couldn't smell them which, of course, was good and the wind was in our favor.

The first part of the road is on county ground, but then Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park takes over and everything is a bit laxer. The hiking becomes harder, too.

But slowly excitement was taking over. The glowing clouds over the ocean appeared in the distance, announcing the location where the lava enters the ocean. It caused a new spring in our step. We knew we weren't too far anymore.

Suddenly the road is at its end, covered by lava. First we turned left, towards the ocean, and climbed over lava boulders and rocks toward the cliff's edge. This is what we saw:

It leaves one speechless. This is so dramatic, so full of power. We witnessed how land was created - with a lot of steam, fume and sizzle. The powers of nature at work - it was unforgettable.

Fire and water met and they did it with a lot of show - the best show you can imagine. As far as I know this is the only place on our planet where you can witness this drama, performed by Pele. You don't mess with her!

This was the tiny little fence separating people from the heat and fragile ground of lava and new land. A piece of wire tightened between some poles - a good fence? A joke? Still a fence, and therefore shared with Theresa's Good Fences.

By the way, there was no fence at the edge of the cliff. I told you, everything was rather lax here. Wait until we get to the other side of the road.

The other side is uphill. This is where the lava flows down the slope, coming from P'u 'Ō'ō.

We were standing a mere 5-6 feet away from this piping hot lava flow - 5-6 feet (for everybody familiar with the metric system, this is less than two meters)! No fence (not even a joke one), no barrier. If you felt like it you could walk right into it. It would be your last walk, though.

I told you it was lax. And laid back.

The lava flow changes constantly. It doesn't flow particularly fast, but not really slow either. It certainly doesn't flow quietly - it sizzles, whispers and pops. The heat is intense. I was sweating and my face was glowing similar to the lava (okay, not quite).

The shapes and forms lava is building are incredibly beautiful.

For me this was the highlight of our vacation in Hawai'i. I still think of it often and feel the same excitement I felt back then when I was standing so close to earth's hot liquid. As a human being you feel very small next to this nature show. You know that you can't do anything to change the flow of lava or stop it or redirect it. It does its "own thing". Beauty and destruction are often very close to each other.

Here you can see how close Käfer and I were standing to the lava. This was the experience of a lifetime and well worth the long exhausting hike. My feet were hurting like crazy when we finally reached the parking lot again but such sweet pain!

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Day in Davis

Last Sunday we went to Davis to spend the day with Kaefer. Of course it was wonderful to see her again!!!

She enjoys living in the dorms that are in colorful buildings that leave open space between the buildings, trees and lots of parking for bikes. Davis, after all, is a bike town.

We walked around campus on our way to downtown Davis. Kaefer has recently joined the Davis Agility Nerds which is an off-campus club that does Parkour. She showed us a little bit of what they're doing when they get together. I could see how much she enjoys this.

She is still at a very basic level and doesn't jump from skyscraper to skyscraper - Thank goodness!

Of course we noticed some more of the famous eggheads that you can find all over the campus.

Davis is a sweet little town with a lovely downtown - lots of trees line the streets here. Some houses look rather rundown and offer some interesting items on their porches. There is also quite a bit of interesting art to see.

Lots of outdoor cafes and beautiful young women...

We also spent some time in the Arboretum where we lazily sat on a bench, watching people, some turtles and two very active otters on the other side of the little stream. It was a beautiful autumn day!

Of course you can't go to Davis without visiting the cows!! Kaefer lives rather close to them and told us that they are the "smelliest" right before dawn. The two of us spent some time with the cows who were quite curious and one of them even wanted to eat my shirt.

Unfortunately way too soon we had to say our goodbyes again. It wasn't as hard as the day when we first took her to Davis, but I still miss my goofy girl.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Hanging Out with Online Friends

When I introduced our giveaway to you, I mentioned that I teamed up with three other Etsy sellers for the month of October. Now, with only one week left of the month, I can say that this was a wonderful idea. While I kind of knew one of the other artists, I knew next to nothing about the other two except that they are making beautiful art. I wasn't even aware that they are not living in the US!

We connected with each other through a team thread where we exchanged ideas and encouraged each other. Then someone came up with the idea of using Google hangouts to chat with each other. One of us set up the video chat and on Thursday morning we "met" face to face, talking and laughing for a long time. Seeing these lovely ladies and connecting with them made my day! Let me tell you a little bit about them.

First, there is Sally. She lives in Toronto, Canada, and is a mom to three kids (all of us have teenage or adult children). She has at least two cats who both showed up briefly during our video chat. Sally hand crafts semi precious stone boho jewelry and every piece she creates is one of a kind. What sets her apart from many jewelry makers is that her pieces are bold and she makes jewelry for both women and men. It really appeals to me that she doesn't offer her beautiful wearable art exclusively to women but includes men as well. It is quite fitting that her shop is called AudacityWear.

Her earrings are my favorite items. Most of them are chandelier earrings which is a style I like to wear. They're bold but elegant and certainly make a statement. This one is made of Turquoise, Tiger Eye and silver, a stunning combination.

Turquoise is also a great stone and color for men's jewelry, like these bracelets:

Ildi is a potter from Maastricht in the Netherlands. What I especially noticed about her during our chat is that she has a great laugh!!! How can you not like someone with a wonderful laugh? Ildi's shop is called Ceraminic, and as you might guess from the name she hand crafts personalized ceramic home decoration and accessories. Can I say cuteness overload? You can find small plates, unique ornaments, ring dishes, stud earrings (also for men!), coasters... I think you should take a look yourself!

Are you in need of super cute ornaments for the holiday season?

Or what about coasters with beautiful autumn leaves?

Ildi also writes a beautiful blog where she discusses her art, and every post she starts with "dear reader" which I find very charming.

I first "met" Ellen through my favorite cougar. I know that sounds completely weird! Ellen lives in Tucson, Arizona and she sometimes visits the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum there where "my" cougar resides as well. When I posted a picture of her (the mountain lion), either on my blog or as a photo card in my shop (I really can't remember), she contacted me telling me that she recognizes this special cougar. Thus we entered our long lasting conversation. She actually got one of my paintings and I received one of her wonderful knitting needle cases. And these are the ones I want to show you, because they are so beautiful and useful at the same time! Are you a knitter? Then I bet you could use one like this one:

If I already hadn't a knitting needle case (with cute little foxes), I would buy this one.

You're not a knitter? Darn! What about a purse made from plastic shopping bags? Recycling at its finest!

You can find Ellen's blog and shop The Chilly Dog here and her Etsy shop where she sells knitting and crochet patterns here.

Next month I will probably team up with other Etsy sellers - we love to mix things up a bit. This was such a great experience that I am excited about the new team, but I know I will miss my three ladies here. However, I'm pretty sure that we will keep in touch.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Signs from the Past (The Volcano Part 4)

Before I visited Kīlauea I had thought about volcanoes in terms of  lava, sulfur dioxide gas, eruptions, hot magma, bare land - devastation. I don't know why I didn't expect anybody living there after an eruption. If people lived there, where would they go?

When I learned in the visitor center about the Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs I knew that I wanted to see them. Petroglyphs have always fascinated me and I enjoyed the ones I saw in the American Southwest. The Pu'u Loa Petroglyph Trail is not a very long one but it runs over an old pāhoehoe lava flow and is marked with cairns. It is not a very long walk, just about 15 to 20 minutes to the petroglyphs.

Thousands of images were carved into the hardened lava representing everything from birth to death. And when I say birth I do mean birth.

Do you see the many small holes in this area of lava? They were created by parents who placed the umbilical cords from their newborns here for good luck. They were all over the place. 

I felt like taking a peek into the life of the ancient Hawai'ians who lived here. A few signs along the boardwalk that was leading through a part of the petroglyph field (so that no one would walk on them) described the life of the people who lived here. It was hard under harsh conditions. However, they didn't leave - and where should they have gone anyway? They probably only knew the area of the volcano.

You could never forget about the volcano here. Lava was everywhere, dark smooth pāhoehoe, it's omnipresent. There were bizarre shapes and forms.

The petroglyphs are only a short distance away from the end of the Chain of Craters Road. The present end. The lava end. The area where the lava of the current eruption from the Pu'u Ō'ō vent has overflown entire neighborhoods and wiped out a small town, including this road. Where the lava still flows and enters the ocean with a lot of sizzle and steam. Without any doubt it is the most fascinating part of the volcano.

Which will be written about in a future post...