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Granddaddy 2003 

Okay, here’s the thing: Apparently I’m not very good at naming my pieces. Clearly, I am uninspired in that department. I tend to call them what they are. If it’s called a Parallel Chain bracelet, that’s because it’s a bracelet and the weave I used is called Parallel Chain. I hesitate to give them fancy names, since I’m afraid I may be setting you up with preconceived notions. What if I named a bracelet Griselda, would you feel the same as if it were named Genevieve? But what if you know a Genevieve and she is the meanest priss you’ve ever come across…see my dilemma? So I just work in the generic. What are you here for a sweet name or a sweet bracelet? (But if you want help naming your baby, I maintain while Cara is lovely for a girl, I think it could work for a boy, too. Don’t be a sheeple, be a trailblazer!)

So what’s been hanging me up on introducing this bracelet is the name. I didn’t know what to call it. If I call it Granddaddy’s Ring Bracelet, not only is it a mouthful, it means nothing to you. (though it will shortly once we get through this) So I’m going to fallback on my tried & true (let’s ignore the fact that it’s boring, okay? Much appreciated.) Introducing the Wedding Ring Bracelet. At the very least you know what it is but here’s why I make it:

My maternal grandfather passed away in March of 2005. Like everyone else’s grandfather he was an original. He worked in the sulphur fields outside Beaumont, TX. He loved to play golf & fish. He was the man that told me it was ridiculous to assume men can’t sew or cook. He called me ‘Snake Hips’ growing up. And he wore a size 13 ring. People see the ring & ask if he was a big man. He was *maybe* 5 foot 3 inches in his boots. But he had his own way of filling a room. My Mom is his only daughter so, of course, she is now the owner of his wedding ring. She wanted to wear the ring, but clearly it would fit no finger & the ring on a chain idea was just kinda, well, meh. So I tried a few different versions of a bracelet (Mom’s the original bracelet stacker). None worked; due to design and execution flaws we’re actually quite lucky the ring wasn’t lost all together. Then in one of those, this-is-one-of-the-best-ideas-I’ve-ever-had-why-am-I-standing-in-this-shower-I-clearly-need-paper-and-a-writing-utensil-what-if-the-steam-clears-before-I-sketch-this-thing-I-just-drew-on-the-shower-door moments, this was born:

 

 Wedding Ring Bracelet

And I’ve been honoring grandfathers, husbands, great-grandparents and beautiful antique wedding rings found in a drawer or a flea market that just needed a home & a second chance to be admired ever since. So I could come up with a fancy name but chances are if you ask me about it I’ll blank & won’t know which bracelet you’re referring to. And then we’ll both have to live through an awkward conversation about is it the one that goes around your wrist with the little circles in a pattern, most of them are silver but it may have had a bit of gold. You’ll think I don’t know what I’m doing & I’ll be left thinking my work is so unmemorable that you can’t even remember what you want. So let’s try to avoid all that, okay? Plus if we wait on the fancy name, well, you wouldn’t have just finished reading about it now. 😉

 

 

 

    

Since all work on these bracelets is custom, please e-mail me to discuss details. info@studio219designs.com

Looking forward to hearing from you either by comment or e-mail!

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'Wood Block' Prints from MFAH Creation Station

Okay, I took the kids down to the Museum District yesterday. We wanted to check out the creation station the Museum of Fine Arts was hosting. I basically left it there as far as planning went. I though we’d be in and out and home before rush hour even dreamed of starting. So we got down there about 11:30 am (no direct flights from The Woodlands to The Museum District. I mean, it *is* spring break…) Long story, short, we didn’t leave the area until almost 8:30 in the Post Meridian. I underestimated the stamina & just plain wonderfulness of my own children. We had the *most* fun! I’ll spare you the middling details (but if you want some leave me a comment or e-mail me). Pictures are below.  There are a lot them, I wasn’t feeling particularly in the mood to self-edit.

Though I will say one of the funniest things I’ve heard in a long time came from a conversation Carol Anne & I were having about art (all my art history & art education neurons were glowing & firing. Well, the ones not withered from lack of use or destroyed by pregnancy brain. But the other three were on fire!) Before I leave it where I leave it, please know that in ‘real life’ the conversation didn’t end where it does below. So here it goes, hoping you’ll find it as amusing as I did. Especially, after all this build-up. Since I’ve gone through the trouble of mentioning my art history/education background, I’d hate to come across as terribly irresponsible. 😉

We were talking about some of the things we saw, what we liked & didn’t like…and she says, “Mom, do you *get* art?” I said, “well, some yes & some no. And some I just like to look at whether I get it or not.” Carol Anne replies with, ‘Well, I don’t get a lot of it. I mean like when someone paints a banana dressed up as a pickle or something, I just don’t get *that*” 

Just a brief little update on our $30 Challenge. The classroom that got it all started is finished! Check out the pictures here  The kids were so excited to see my Twitter name,@cara19, on the wall of the classroom representing our donation. You can spot the @cara19 on the wall under the blue ‘This Classroom Built With Gratitude. Thank You:’ And though it shouldn’t be the only reason for looking at the pictures the kids were, well, stoked (for lack of a 21st century word) to see it in so many pictures. It’s gratifying for all of us to see the students working in the classroom.  Now we just have to get those books to Tanzania for the library (suggestions on shipping packages to Africa accepted & appreciated)…

In the meantime, there’s Tweetluck.  Another great way to help Mama Lucy’s school. And I also got to revel in what I hoped would come from our $30 challenge. I asked Carol Anne if she thought we should be Lucky People ($7.77 donation) or Lucky Stars ($7.77/month for a year). Initially, she liked the name Lucky Stars (seriously,what did I expect, asking a 7 year old?).  She thought the single donation of $7.77 would be good enough. For some reason, she thought the monthly commitment was a bit much.  I asked her how she’d feel if all we had to do was give-up eating out just *once* a month to participate as a Lucky Star. Can I tell you how much I love to see her brain at work? Her answer to that was to give-up 3 meals at restaurants and go for the monthly commitment! How did I get so *lucky* to have such a great kid? Consider it done! So we’re Lucky Stars. Officially (I already thought we were, but now it’s in writing).

How lucky are you? Go share your luck & love. http://www.tweetluck.org

 

 

P.S. I found out that Carol Anne’s reluctance to donate monthly was due to the fact that she thought it would come from our $30 monthly challenge budget. Once she found out we could participate and still do the monthly $30 Challenge, she was as they say in Texas hold ’em: all in.

I just don’t have the words for this. The idea, the fact that this is possible is horrendous to me as a mother and a sister and a human. I’m sharing it with you, hoping you will share my outrage and want to take a minute to *do something*

Briefly there’s this: In 1992, the year after we graduated from high school, my friend’s sister, RaLynn, was brutally murdered by her boyfriend. I can’t even begin to imagine living in the aftermath of such a violent crime. To pour salt in the wound, this convicted, confessed murderer is eligible for parole every two years. Every two years, my friend Rachel & her family have to go through the ‘trouble’ of asking the state of Texas to keep this man behind bars.  They have to protest his release, reminding the parole board why he should serve out his term. Rachel & her family need letters to help keep this man behind bars. Apparently, each time a person comes up for parole, their chance of release increases.  Additionally, if he has managed to keep his nose clean during his incarceration, once again his chances for release goes up. If no one protests the parole of this man, he could go free. Again, a possibility that boggles my mind. If you can find a moment, a short letter or e-mail of protest to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice would be appreciated.

I’ll stop talking now and let Rachel speak for herself.  Here is her recent letter requesting protest letters to the parole board followed by the letter she wrote just two short years ago:

Hello friends and family,

I am sending you this urgent request.

Please help me keep a murderer in jail. I have attached a very long an extremely personal and emotion letter that I wrote 2 years ago in my efforts to keep my sister’s murderer in jail. She was murdered by her boyfriend in 1992. Many of you probably remember the situation. We were successful that time but we received word this week that he is being reviewed again for parole. It is normal for convicted criminals in our system to obtain the right for parole after serving only ¼ of their sentence and then they get reviewed every 2 years thereafter for another chance to get out and walk free. The address, fax number and email is listed below if you would like to send a letter on our behalf requesting he not be released. Once again this information is very personal and it is a long story. You may not even want to read it. I cry when I have to think about this and I have not written my new letter yet since I received my notification last week. If you do decide to mail, fax or email a note in protest of his release, I would like to thank you in advance for your time and efforts. BE sure to include the convicts name state ID and TDCJ ID in your letter. It does not have to be long protest, a few short sentences will do. Thanks for reading this.

Send letters of protest to:

Victim Services Division
Angela McCown
8712 Shoal Creek Blvd.
Suite 265
Austin, Texas 78757-6899

Re: Rex Andrew Alexander
State ID # 04433725
TDCJ ID # 00648577

Victim.svc@tdcj.state.tx.us

Fax 512-452-0825

My letter from 2 years ago

Dear Sir/Madam:

I knew that these parole hearings would soon be forthcoming, but when we received the letter last week and it became real, I was overcome with grief, and then anger. I was also scared. We were provided this information 3 months into the parole process. What if we were never informed of these proceedings. Even worse, what if he gets out? Rex Andrew Alexander, the murderer who took my sister from me, is being considered for release. I am sick. The thought of his possibly being released causes me a great deal of pain. It has taken me over a week to write this because it is too emotional and difficult to see through the tears that begin to fall immediately from my eyes.

We knew him as Andy, and I will refer to him as such in this letter.

I cannot believe that a person who has the capacity to commit such horrific crimes can be rehabilitated. There is no such thing for those that murder. Andy killed my sister. Andy disposed of her body by hiding it in the trunk of her own car then left her in that trunk and dumped the car in a field. Andy returned later to set her body, and then the car on fire. This is the calculated actions of a very sick man that feels nothing. He obviously does not know right from wrong. Andy never once showed an ounce of remorse during the entire ordeal 13 years ago. Rex Andrew Alexander does not deserve a second chance. RaLynn does not get a second chance at life. I will never get to see my sister again. I will never get to talk to her again. She will never have a family of her own. My children will never know her. I miss her terribly. I cannot stop crying as I write this. It would simply be unjust to allow Andy the things he denied to my sister RaLynn. He took her away from us and it is so unfair. Andy’s family can visit him, write to him, hear his voice. I will never, get those opportunities with my sister. Never again!!

The last time I saw my sister she was on her way to work. She told us she was going to stop by Andy’s house. He had called and wanted some things that she had. We never got to see her again. She did not make it to work, we reported her missing and everyone was worried for the next few days. That worry turned to terror when we were awakened by the police one morning around 3:30 a.m. RaLynn’s car was found ablaze in a field with a charred body in the trunk. The police officer held out his hand. When he opened it, he held my sister’s jewelry in his palm. I crumbled into the arms of my husband, who immediately extended his leave from active Naval duties. I was 19 years old. My mother was out of town. I had to deal with this. It turns out that RaLynn was so badly burned that even the dental records I had to drop off at the coroner’s office were insufficient in the identification process. It was the jewelry that was taken from her body that provided the positive identification, that, and the confession that was later taken from Andy.

After the police left, I drove to Cleveland to get my grandparents to help me since my Mom was out of town on a previously scheduled business trip. They came to my house along with many other family members. Later that day, Andy joined us in our home. He walked around yelling angry words in the air, swearing he would find out who did this. He sat at the kitchen table. He put his arms around my Granny and Paw Paw acting as though he could console them. He ate at our table and then less than 24 hours later confessed to the murder of my sister while being questioned at the police station. How dare him come into our home, accept our hospitality, talk to me and my family, eat at my table. He was probably laughing at us the whole time. I am sickened that he entertained himself at my home in that way. He is a monster. I feel nauseous just writing this and still cry when I have to talk about it.

My parents are divorced. My father went into a deep depression due to this situation. He was an alcoholic and then became a sick alcoholic, unable to work or function. Because he lived alone, he had a very difficult time coping with the loss of his daughter. He became more reclusive and withdrawn and is still that way.

Additionally, we were forced to worry about the stress on my younger sister Roxann, who was due to deliver her baby within days of this news. Luckily she delivered a healthy baby boy. His name is Justin Tyler Alexander. This child is related by blood to the man who murdered my sister RaLynn. I have two sisters, RaLynn and Roxann. They were dating brothers, twins. This forever ties us to Andy’s family. It is very difficult to see Justin’s family and not think of Andy and what he did. We will never be able to have a normal relationship with Justin’s father’s family. An additional thing Andy has stolen from us, and an innocent, then unborn, child. This entire situation is totally unfair to Justin. We were sickened by the fact that Justin’s father would take him to the jail to see his uncle. Because of Andy there has been stress in the relationship between Justin’s mom and dad. I do not even want to imagine the strain that would incur if Andy is set free. The trauma Justin could be subjected to will be totally unfair. He is a child and does not have the ability to avoid this murderer, especially if he is visiting with his father. I wonder if Andy will see the resemblance that Justin shares with his Aunt RaLynn. Would Andy mistreat his nephew if he reminds him of RaLynn? Will he hurt him too? Will he come after one of us? I will fear for myself, my family, and my own children.

RaLynn had recently acquired a night job, so that she could care for Roxann’s newborn. She planned to take care of the new baby during the day while Roxann finished high school. RaLynn and Roxann were inseparable. RaLynn was so excited about being an Aunt. We had just had a baby shower for Roxann. RaLynn totally planned it and couldn’t wait for delivery day. RaLynn was murdered 9 days prior to the birth of her nephew. She never even got to see him. Roxann had a difficult time the following semester having to acquire a job to pay for daycare so that she could finish school and provide for him. She did not get the help she deserved from her baby’s father since we were caught up in legal proceedings concerning this murder. It hurt her too deeply to see the father of her baby, to fight in front of her child, because her child’s uncle killed our sister. Andy also burned our car. We did not have money to replace that car. This left Roxann with no transportation.

The night my sister was murdered, before she left to go work, we were discussing my upcoming wedding ceremony. RaLynn had formerly been in choir and I wanted her to sing in my wedding. We were discussing what songs she might like to sing and during what part of the ceremony she could do it. We never got to finish that conversation. Six months later, as I stood at the alter reciting my wedding vows, looking over at my friends and family, I could not help but notice the empty spot where she should have been standing. Friends of my husband sang during our ceremony. I was thinking, I wish my sister was singing right now. When I look at the pictures of my family she is not there. She is supposed to be there. RaLynn did not get to see me get married. She did not get to stand with me. She did not get to see her nephew be born. She did not get the chance to get married herself or have the babies she wanted to have. She did not get to do so many things we had planned for our futures. Andy took all that away from us.

As I sit here writing this, crying, my daughter who is 7 asks me, ”Mom, why are you crying?” I have to explain to her again that I am upset and miss her Aunt RaLynn. The aunt she will never know. She asks me again, “Why did Andy kill our Aunt RaLynn?” I tell her that there are just some very bad people in this world and that we are safe from him, he is locked up in jail. She says, “Don’t be sad Mom.” Now I am crying more. I wish my daughters could meet her. I hope to never have to explain to her why he is not in jail.

If Andy is released I will feel sick and disappointed in our system. He is a danger to our family and to society as a whole. Please do not release him from jail. Andy deserves no less than to serve his full punishment, which is much shorter than the punishment everyone who knows RaLynn will be subjected to. The short time in jail in no way compares to the lifetime we will be forced to live without our sister, friend, etc…

Sincerely,

Rachel Ramirez

Since it’s March & I’m clearly running a bit behind I thought I’d just combine January & February to streamline things.

January

We had big plans for this month’s challenge. Then I found out it’s a bad idea to mess with bees when they are cold. Had no idea. Good information to have on file, though. So the original plan for January has been moved to March or April. I’ll save the details for then. It”s going to be a fun one. Stay tuned..

So that being said, we had to change gears quickly once we found out our plans had to be scratched. So we decided to go ahead and finish up what we started back in November with Tweetsgiving and Epic Change.  Turns out our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. As we were deciding what to do with our $30 this month I saw a tweet about  some test results at Mama Lucy’s school. As it turns out the school placed #1 out of 117 schools in their district on their national exams! (you can read all about it here) Carol Anne felt it would be great to celebrate by buying books for the school’s library. Originally, she wanted to send a copy of The Princess and the Pea and Patrick was dead-set on a book about cars. However, faced with all the choices at Borders (seriously, I think almost every children’s book in the store was considered as a choice) changes were made and another old favorite made the cut. Patrick went with a book all about the Arctic and Antarctica. Carol Anne couldn’t resist Kevin Henkes’ Chrysanthemum (one that has been read over & over at bedtime around this house) . I picked out a read-aloud version of Stuart Little and we all decided on a copy of Mercer Mayer’s I Was So Mad. So once we get the logistics figured out, four new books will be on their way to Tanzania along with love and good wishes from Texas.

February

Carol Anne turned seven this month (don’t get me started!). So as per the rules of the $30 Challenge, it was her choice as to where we donated our little sum. We went local and global and had a small field trip. She chose The Pangea Network Local: headquartered in The Woodlands. Global: Their mission is to support women economically & socially in Kenya & the Holy Land. Field trip: the Pangea Network offices are located down the hall from my yoga studio. So in between yoga & lunch, the kids & I met with Nicole Minor.  Nicole is the Executive Director of The Pangea Network  and one of the greatest women around. Nicki took time to explain to the kids how microloans work, why women especially need economic support in developing countries. She & Carol Anne discussed the different ways a woman might so to help support her family. The kids also got to look at some of the incredible pictures Nicki has taken on her travels. They were especially taken with the handmade soccer balls & the dirt floors in the homes. I made sure they took a minute to check out the map of Africa,so we could get a visual idea of where these people are. Nicki was kind enough to share a handcrafted necklace with Carol Anne & a beaded keychain with Patrick. The kids are looking forward to visiting with Nicki again soon once she returns from her current trip to the Holy Land & Kenya.

We’ve got four months behind us in our $30 challenge.  The kids, especially Carol Anne, are really enjoying it & on the look out for new opportunities. The March project has been in the planning stages since December. At the beginning of our challenge, I said I didn’t want to dictate the path of the project. But here’s the beauty part: The kids are enjoying it & talking about it(she told her class at school all about it today when she wore her African necklace to school). So all I can say is that I hope the challenge stretches past a year and becomes less of a challenge and just a good habit.