Friday, January 5, 2018

1987 - Antiques, Crafts and More!

With the move into the new apartment on Sawtelle I was more concerned about storing my "craft stuff" than anything else so I separated the living area/dining area into a living area/craft area. One table, many shelves, one chair and a TV that could move from back to front was all I needed to keep me happy. I would come home from work, eat dinner, then start crafting while I watched TV. Well, you know what they say about idle hands. Every now and then I would participate in a craft show and sell my goods. I did well. I specialized in Christmas ornaments but I also did other things - I decorated baskets and Teddy Bears, I sewed lingerie bags, made purses, sachets and well, to be honest, I think I tried to make everything from every "how to" book ever published. And with each new learning experience, I knew that somewhere down the line, all the knowledge I absorbed would would be put to use some day. With the money I made at the craft shows I was able to purchase more and more antiques and collectibles. And of course the inevitable eventually happened - I had more stuff than I knew what to do with. But I also still wanted MORE!

This is the learning curve that every dealer has to go through - how to hone the eye, to learn to purchase the "best" and then discard the "less than perfect" piece. Everything I had purchsed in my "early days" I considered a learning experience, and yes, I made mistakes. Never anything major mind you, but I did get "taken" at times. Oh well. So as I bought new things for the apartment or for my Treasure Chest (every dealer had a treasure chest), I placed the "old" into a box. And so it happened that one day in 1987 I simply had too much stuff in the apartment and needed to SELL!

Santa Monica had a small 1 day antique show on the corner of Lincoln Blvd and Santa Monica Blvd. Well, somewhere in there. It was held in the parking lot of an antiques shop and it was where I learned my trade. I didn't make much money at first but I certainly learned about linens, quilts, prints, jewelry and so much more. I had some of the best teachers at that time and they were more than happy to point me in the right direction. From that show I learned of another antique show in the area, the Culver City Antique Show (now defunct) held once a month on the 3rd Sunday of the month. Yep, it clashed with the Long Beach Flea Market, but at least it was inside and air conditioned. Even today, I just can't take outside heat!

I managed to secure a space at one of the shows due to a cancellation and I showed up with high hopes. The first person I met was Pat Bates and the second, Richard Fauteux. Pat dealt in (mostly) textiles but she also carried furniture. Richard specialized in jewelry and small collectibles of the silver sort. Both were great dealers and both made their living by their trade. I was honestly amazed that one could make a living just selling antiques/collectibles. At the time, I couldn't have existed without my job as a legal secretary at a law firm. How times have changed!

Pat welcomed me to the show and with one eye on the inventory I was unloading, she was quick to cry "I want that" every time I pulled out something that pleased her. Soon, she disappeared and the next thing I knew was that my booth was filled to bursting with other dealers from the show. No customers (we weren't open yet), just dealers. And they picked me clean! I couldn't believe it. My pockets were filled with cash and my booth was practically empty. It was one of those moments when I thought I could do this forever and I envied those who did it full time.

Well the doors to the show finally opened and when the customers approached my booth, I was greeted with groans as obviously they knew something I didn't. But even with the limited inventory still in the booth, I sold. At the end of the day, I had practically nothing left of my old inventory. Instead I had a purse full of cash and checks and, of course, couldn't wait to spend it all.

As I was packing up to leave Pat wandered over and asked how I did. I told her I had done well, $1,300 to be exact. She nodded her head and replied "that's good but do you want to know how you could have done better?" Curious I said yes. And here's a lesson for every antique newbie out there.......

"How did you price your inventory?" Interesting question, I thought.

"Well, what I paid for it and then doubled but with the best stuff, maybe a little more to the price" was my reply.

"That's what everyone does at first. Now let me ask you this, did you do any research before you put a price tag on your stuff?"

"No" I said. And Pat began to tell me how researching the market was what I had to learn. Who was selling a similar item for what price - how scarce was my item - was it common - unusual - possibly one of a kind? Well, the questions were such that I couldn't really give any answers and that's when Pat dropped the bomb.

"Okay, let's take a look at some of the stuff I bought. You sold me a quilt for $75. I'm going to ask $250. You sold me a mink wrap for $65 - I'm going to sell if for $500. You sold me a pair of beaded shoes for $125. I'm going ask $500 for them." My jaw dropped! The prices she were quoting were unfathomable to me. Even today I think back on those prices and still think they were high. But....

So, with my first lesson I was prepared to do battle. I would learn more, research more, and sell better. After all, since I had a full time job, I could afford to take a few more risks. Well, as much as my pocketbook would allow.

And on that note, I will end now and continue later.

(All images on this page are from a past CALM Antique Show held in Santa Barbara, a show where I exhibited for a few years.)

Till the next time....

Monday, December 25, 2017

1984 - The Year ANTIQUES Started for Me!

Having Rikki as a roommate was quite an experience! She was certainly a lot better roommate than my previous one who had taken all my pots and pans, dishes, cutlery and anything else she could lay her hands on when she moved out. Thank goodness Rikki was someone I knew from work - there was no way she would ever take anything from me. She, I could trust!

Rikki was an awful lot of fun, and brought with her everything needed to complete an apartment. Her furniture was just a bonus! I must admit, I sincerely coveted everything she had but it also made me more resolute in my determination to one day purchase not only my own residence, but my own furniture. I wasn't quite prepared for how I felt about "old" things or the cost, but I must admit, I was intriqued by how she encapsulated her theories about her possessions into one simple story....

"Robbie", she said, "Why would you want to go out and pay good money for a piece of furniture that, in a few years, will be worth absolutely nothing. It's cheap fibreboard in most cases, not well made, and usually looks like _ _ _ _ after only a few years. Instead, for the same amount of money, you can go out and buy a piece of antique furniture that, so far, has lasted 100 years or more and is GUARANTEED to last another 100."

Smart advice. The only problem was, I didn't quite agree with purchasing antique furniture then because I did not own a place I could really call home. Oh, I loved the Santa Monica condo and I had my own bedroom, Rikki had hers plus an en suite, and I had the study/bar room for all my crafty projects. Between the two of us, we were only just managing to pay the $1,200 per month to cover the mortgage payment that the attorney-owner hoped not to pay. He had recently inherited his father's mansion in Holmby Hills and wanted to offload the condo as soon as he could. The asking price was $150,000 and although that didn't seem like much, I knew that there was no way a bank of Los Angeles would lend a single woman that kind of money. It simply wasn't done so no sense in even applying.

While Rikki and I were together she decided to teach me a little about antiques. Starting at the crack of dawn, on the second Sunday of each month, Rikki dragged me to the Rose Bowl where she pointed out items that interested her. At that time, I would rather have stayed in bed! But after taking me along for 6 months, I actually began to enjoy the trips. And I started to buy. Not big items at first, but things I thought I could use in my crafts.

I started with hankies. Then bits of antique fabric. Lace. Appliques. Art Deco silk ribbon work. Ribbon. Quilts. Victorian clothing. Victorian bead work. And that's where I stopped. My pocketbook didn't allow for much more than those small purchases. In 1984, $50 at the show bought me a TON of goods. In 2005, the year I left Los Angeles, I couldn't go to the Rose Bowl with anything less than $1,000. Times certainly changed!

Well, after 2 years plus of staying in the condo, the landlord sold the unit - for $135,000 and Rikki and I were given 60 days notice! Oh, and to give an idea as to how stupid I was, in 2010 the condo was listed for ONE MILLION DOLLARS. Yup - OUCH!

So Rikki moved in with her boyfriend and I moved into a converted garage in Santa Monica where I froze for 1 full year due to there being no heat in the unit. That's when I decided I'd rather be warm and cozy with a thermostat than cold and wet in Santa Monica. I was lucky in finding an aprtment so quickly in the West End that I could afford. I landed on Sawtelle Drive in West Los Angeles and was very happy with the move. The unit was a spacious 1 bedroom with garage and pool and was near the 405. A little noisy due to the traffic, yes, but it had central heat and air conditioning. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The only thing was, I moved into the unit with a bed, 2 tables, a rattan peacock chair, my linens, my clothes and a microwave. In other words, practically nothing. Which meant, I had to buy furniture, pots and pans, dishes, cutlery, and a whole lot more! And that's another story which I will relate in my next post.

Till next time.

1979 to 1984 - San Diego & Los Angeles

Driving from Canada to the bottom of the United States is quite a jaunt! And with a sojourn into Reno, Nevada to get my first taste of gambling, well, what should have been a 3 day journey took me more like 5. But I saw a lot of the country before ending up in San Diego - Mira Mesa to be exact.

Sue was my roomate's name and after finally finding her house, greeting her dogs, and viewing my bedroom, well, I realized then and there that I wouldn't be staying too long. Since I had a small settlement from my ex, I figured I had to get to work right away making money. I went to a ton of Employment Agencies but after 3 weeks of "waiting it out" nothing happened. And when I finally blew my stack at the agencies for not sending me out on any interviews, I figured San Diego was NOT the place for me to live. Good thing I came to that decision because less then 1 month after my arrival, Sue told me she was getting married and her new hubbie would be moving in. Whew! What a relief!

Packing the car once more I headed toward Los Angeles. My first apartment was in Hollywood and I set to finding myself a job. I was lucky in that a girl in the apartment building told me that they were always looking for salesgirls at Shane's Jewelry in Westwood Village. So off to Shane's I went. The interview took all of 20 minutes but the background check was horrible. I had to present myself to a PI to take a lie detector test. Well, with all the gold around the shop, the first thing on Shane's mind was trustworthiness and every girl who worked there had to pass the test. I did and the next day I was working in Westwood for the grand sum of $695 per month!

I stayed at Shane's for about 8 months meeting celebrities like Anna Maria Alberghetti, Susan Strasberg and Little Stevie Wonder. One of the girls behind the counter with me was Jennifer Savidge, an actress who was a buddy of Richard Chamberlain. She eventually found fame, though short lived, in the last 2 seasons of St. Elsewhere playing Nurse Lucy Papandrao - the love interest for Ed Begley, Jr.  Jennifer stayed with Shane's for a spell and left before I did. She had found a job on stage which was her true profession. Can't say I blamed her. Shane's, at best, was only a stepping stone to another job.

The 70s turned into the 80s and after leaving Shane's I applied at a few different venues. One, working for Don Rickle's accountants. Two, working for one of Ted Turner's companies. Three, working for a law firm on Wilshire Blvd near the Miracle Mile. The law job was the first one back with an offer.

While working PI Defense as a receptionist, then legal secretary, then book keeper, then office manager, I met and fell in love with my first L.A. guy. It didn't work out. Then I met my second L.A. guy. That didn't work out either. But I did find something that took my fancy. The Craft shows of California!

I started to apply to craft shows selling the small quantity of jewelry that I had. Since I didn't have room in my apartment for a full silversmithing set-up I figured I had better try my hand at something else. And during the early 80s, with Disco in full bloom, and physical fitness "in", I started making hair combs and hair headbands. And they sold!

Westwood Village had a small market within one multi-retail establishment. I was able to rent one table and sit on the fountain every Friday and Saturday night. Rent was $25 for Friday night and $35 for all day Saturday. And I sold my wares and made money. I met more celebrities at this venue and sold lots of hair combs to lots of ladies.

In 1982, I lost my job at the law firm and found another one with yet another law firm in Century City. The pay was about $200 more than I was making at the old job which was a nice bonus. AND one of the lawyers at the firm was moving out of his 2 bedroom condo in Santa Monica and looking to rent it out. Well, who wouldn't want to live in Santa Monica! I grabbed a roommate - which didn't work out too well (she eventually moved out) and when she left, I grabbed another roommate from the same law firm. Ricki was her name and she was a very interesting lady. Since I had no furniture for the condo other than my own bed, she asked if she could move in all hers. I figured, why not - so in it came. And oh my goodness, what furniture she had! Antique Victorian pieces that literally took my breath away. A Four Poster bed, a Hutch that had so many carved cupids on it I didn't think it was possible to HAVE that many on ANY piece of furnitre, carved tables, gorgeous lamps, just downright beautiful STUFF! And all I wanted to know was where she had found such fantastic stuff. And that's when it all started. Antiques - my new passion. Where could I find all this great booty FOR ME?

And that's another story best left for my next blog.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

1968 - 1978 - Dick Cavett, Loretta Young & Gastown

Continuing my story....

                                                        GOOD OLD HANDSWORTH!

School and crafts seemed to go well together. Monday through Friday I looked forward to my Art Classes with Miss Clay and on the weekends, I sold my product.

The Lonsdale shop stayed open one year renting space to crafters. It then decided to expand and took over the top floor space which meant us poor crafters had to find another venue to sell. There were really no "craft fairs" as yet in Vancouver so the Handsworth Girls (as we liked to call ourselves) built ourselves a cart, bought a peddlar's license, and proceeeded to set up shop on the streets of Gastown in downtown Vancouver.

I had a friend who owned a building and also sold leather hides and other crafty items from the top floor. Donna was her name and if anyone personified the 1960s, Donna did. Female, a woman all for liberation and a property entrepreneur to boot, she taught me a lot more about retail, wholesale and how to find the best suppliers. Donna was a mentor, a tutor and someone I still admire to this day. She's still in Vancouver, selling real estate now, and we do talk to each other from time to time  She tells me she is still sitting on lots of products from "the old days" and boy, I sure would like to get my hands on some of it - she really did have an eye for the good stuff!

Gastown in the late 60s was a great place to be. There were peddlars all over the streets, great restaurants and crowds of people. Sales were not always good as there were so many vendors to choose from, but every now and then, one of Us Girls had a great day! We kept the cart for 2 summers and then sold it to another gentleman who sold leather belts. We got a fair price for it and managed to exit the business with profit for all. I went to a babysitting job that was steady and paid $12 per weekend. So I had money in my pocket and could experiment with anything new that came along. Let's just say I didn't expect love to come along so soon.

My parents decided to splt. My sister went with my mother while I and my brother decided to stay with my father. What I hadn't really prepared myself for was that my father still wanted a full time cook, housekeeper and companion and I just wasn't prepared to do it.

The situation took its toll. My grades went straight downward. The school counsellors wondered what was happening - when they found out, the daily "talks"started and I really was at my wits end. With the babysitting on weekends, cooking for my Dad - I was at the point of having a nervous breakdown. Finally, my father saw what was happening and from then on, he started helping out a little more with meals and cleaning. Things got better.

The start of my 1969 school term was hard. I was still having trouble keeping my grades up but about 2 months in I pulled up my socks and managed to raise them to a respectable level. After all, I thought, University was just around the corner and the Grade Point Average of Grade 11 and Grade 12 counted for entrance. About the 3rd month into the term I happened to get a crush on a guy in my class. The feeling was not reciprocal but I managed to get him to come around eventually. And then when he started pursuing me, I changed my attentions to someone else. My high school English teacher!

Well, to save time in this blog, I sort of fell for the guy. I had the biggest crush on Dick Cavett at the time and my English teacher was the spitting image of the gent. I just couldn't help it, you'd think I had fallen for a movie star. Anyway, by the end of Grade 11, we had a good rapport and I fully expected to see him at the start of Grade 12. I didn't. He actually had to move 500 miles north of Vancouver to find a job in the interior of BC. And I had to find all this out from someone who worked in the school office. Angry, I wrote a letter to the gent and for 1 full school term we corresponded and during the holidays, when he was in Vancouver, we spent time together. Now I know what you are thinking but believe me, nothing happened! I was pretty naive about everything! At the end of school term 1971, we saw each other for 1 month then got married. I moved further inland and another chapter in my life began. That of wife.

Experience has taught me that NO ONE should get married at 18. You really don't know your mind. My first year of married life I learned to cook. My second year I worked at a disco as a cocktail waitress. The next 5 years were spent at the Bank of Montreal. Then my husband and I went to Europe for 2 months. It was the days of Frommer's $10 a day rate and I must admit he was right. We did 2 months in Europe on $2,000 plus a $500 letter of credit. Amazing!

Europe was fun but it spelled the end of my marriage. I was getting too independent and didn't like being tied down. But I made the most of my trip by buying all sorts of beads from the different countries I visited. Denmark was the best place of beads and I bought so many that one full bag was filled with their contents. After a spell lugging the bag around I realized I had to mail it back to Canada. And the postage seemed to be MORE than what I paid for the beads!

When we got home from Europe I knew the marriage was over but I needed time to gather my thoughts and put some money aside for when I actually left. I started doing craft shows, actually running them myself, and doing pretty good. It was only when my husband decided to garnish all my earnings that I realized I had to start hiding the money in order to keep it. And once deceit creeps into a marriage it really is over!

1977 saw me leaving my husband and moving in with my father in Vancouver. He was still single but dating a much younger lady. When I got my separation settlement from my husband I decided to take a cruise from Los Angeles. The AFI was sponsoring a cruise that featured celebrities and I decided to join that particular sailing. Oh, it was wonderful! Charlton Heston hosted the champagne send-off and Old Hollywood was present on the voyage. Dana Andrews, Loretta Young, Bea Arthur and Rouben Mamoulian were on board and each night the small AFI group sat at one of their tables. The stories were fascinating and each night, Miss Young looked as ravishingly beautiful as she did on the screen.

When I returned to Vancouver I was ready to make a move out of my father's place but to where? The girl I roomed with on the cruise suggested where she lived - San Diego. But I wasn't ready quite yet. I took a silversmithing course at the Vancouver School of Jewelry and after a sudden appearance by my ex I decided it really was time to leave Dodge City. My ex was starting to scare me and I had to disappear completely. I couldn't stay in Vancouver so I decided to move to the States. But I wanted to move to Los Angeles and not San Diego but I figured a girl on her own ought to have a roommate so San Diego it was. The main hurdle had already been taken care of via my mother. I was already an American citizen, my mother having to register me with the U.S. Government upon birth. Oh the benefits of having an American mother married to a Canadian father! So into my car went all my clothes, supplies and anything else I could think of. Kissing my father good-bye I headed toward the border and to my new life in the States. The month was September. The year was 1978. And new adventures lay in wait. But I'll continue the balance in another blog.

Stay tuned.

Victorian Paper Lace Pretties!

Sometimes, during the course of a day, you spot something so pretty, you just have to share with friends.  I don't know if anyone will ever read my blog, but I can certainly add tidbits every now and then (especially since I am in the middle of my life story right now and trying hard to get it up to date).  One thing I do like is looking at Facebook and seeing all the creative people and their designs, as well as antiquers who display at antique shows and brocantes.  Goodness knows, I sure miss traveling overseas but travel these days is a very scary thing and I prefer to remain closer to home.  Anyway, here's a few goodies I just have to share.  There is beauty in old age - and these items just prove it.

If you're wondering, the background is old ANTIQUE VICTORIAN paper lace.  The graphic is an old Victorian die cut.  The decoration, which is  hard to determine is either ribbon embroidery or a painted embellishment.

These beauties would have been crafted with love and then framed so that they may remain in pristine condition their entire life.

I like to think of the above image as having been on a decorative box - gifted to a little girl.  You know, they really knew about decorating the outside of a gift as well as the inside!

Till my next writing.....

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

1967 - The Beatles, The Monkees & Twiggy

Hello Everyone - Well, I have a little time so I will write another chapter in my life - eventually I will get to present day but in the meantime, here's a little more history as to how I got where I am today.....

1967 was the year of Twiggy, The Monkees, The Beatles, Expo 67 and the dawning of a new age of crafting.

As a normal, all-Canadian teenager, I was a fanatic about purchasing fashion magazines each month. My favorite was 17, but there was another that ran a close second but I can't seem to remember the name of it. Anyway, I purchased "17" each and every month religiously. I was babysitting most nights and earning a grand total of .35 per hour for doing so so I had plenty of money to indulge in whatever extravagance I could afford. I was also still collecting my .35 a week allowance from my father so most days, I felt pretty flush. I was still beading and selling my creations so I had the money from those sales but I continued to look for new ways in which to create. And finally my creative fervor was ignited by one single issue of my favorite magazine - the May, 1967 issue of SEVENTEEN!

In the summer of 1967 my father proposed taking a family holiday - it actually would be the first and last I would ever take with my family. Disneyland or Expo 67? While the kids chorused DISNEYLAND, my father replied Expo 67. Why? Well, most of our family was located in Windsor, Ontario and he proposed to drive from Vancouver to Montreal and back again. My mother hemmed, my brother hawed, and my sister and I just groaned. In those days there was no no mini TV, DVD player to entertain - only the radio and maybe a few games that could be played in the back seat. And with two parents who enjoyed "the old stuff" in terms of music on the radio, us kids knew it would be a long, boring, journey!

Midway through the road trip, wanting something, anything to read, when my father stoppd for gas at a station somewhere in Alberta, I leapt out of the car and ran to see what magazines they had. While the new July issue of SEVENTEEN had not been posted on the newstands, a copy of the May 1967 issue (which had sold out so fast where I lived) just happened to be there. I purchased the issue immediately, ran back to my father's Parisienne convertible and began devouring each and every page. After thumbing through the fashion pages, I came to an article entitled "You Still Can Make Money This Summer" and on the 2 pages allowed for the article I saw that there were talking about CRAFTING items to SELL! And to my amazement, there were OTHER things to create instead of beaded jewelry.

Remember paper flowers? Well, they were there. String jewelry, Plaster of Paris jewely, button jewelry, there were a lot of crafts pictured that I had not even thought possible. But there they were! All I wanted to do at that point in time was get the car to turn around and get me back home. Since I couldn't do that, the rest of my trip lay in my quest for finding parts. Lots and LOTS of parts!

Expo 67 is a blur. I remember the family we stayed with in Montreal. They spoke fluent French. I spoke Grade 8 High School French. Still, I managed to communicate with the family. Expo itself was fabulous - the crowds enormous and the pavilions really something special. I enjoyed each of the 3 days we were there but I must admit I was chomping at the bit to get home.

On our way back from Montreal we spent a few days in Windsor, visiting my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. I didn't know I had such a BIG family!

The trip home was uneventful and once there I started experimenting. I never really came up with anything I really like but I sure enjoyed what I was doing!

The school term started once again in September 1967 and during that time my parents began to drift apart. They also started to argue. One family crisis led to another and in May 1968, the family was forced to move from our 3 bedroom home in Lynn Valley to a 3 bedroom townhouse on Capilano Road, just below Grouse Mountain.

With a change of schools and new teachers, I really came to love Handsworth Secondary School. It was a fresh change from Argyle where I had been for my junior years and I really felt I was beginning a new chapter in my life. WoW, was I ever!

Handsworth sits almost immediately below the tram up Grouse Mountain. It's high up on a mountain but the area is still very rural. Lots of houses, hills and a nice central shopping area for groceries and the like. The air was crisp, clean and clear. Smog was something unheard of at that time.

Orientation at the school was fast and my first recollection is the name of my art teacher, Miss Clay. Honestly, I kid you not. Talk about a portent of things to come. Miss Clay was a really wonderful teacher who was learning Mandarin Chinese. At class time there would always be a Chinese newspaper on her desk and it was amazing that this teacher was trying to learn something that looked so hard!

Traditional art? Nope. Miss Clay was NOT for that. While Mr. Crumlin at Argyle (a perfect Scotsman with his thick brogue and bushy red beard) was for the classics, Miss Clay was for the experimental. While painting, drawing, sculpting and pottery were still the norm, Miss Clay ventured further into crafts. Leather tooling, Batik, Candle Making, Jewelry Smithing, Mosaics, Macrame, Copper Enameling - honestly, I think I tired every craft at least once by the time senior year came ar0und. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn and Miss Clay was the perfect personification of encouragement.

The summer of 1969 found me renting a space, along with several girlfriends from Handsworth, at a shop on Lonsdale Avenue. Near the end of the street where the Vancouver Ferry once ran, the shop was an early incarnation of Cost Plus or Pier 1 Imports. The bottom of the shop was filled with items from every corner of the world, while the upstairs was filled with crafts from any North Vancouverite who wanted to rent. The space was cheap, about $15 a month if I recall correctly, and divided each month by "us girls".  We not only managed to pay the rent on time but actually made a profit. Each girl was responsible for a shift during the weekend when we could be present at the shop. Monday through Friday, the store took care of sales. You can imagine our excitement when we stormed into the shop on Saturday to see how well (or badly) we had done the previous days before. That experience in selling, to this day, remains another memory firmly entrenched in my mind. That was the true beginning, I think, of my understanding how a business was to be run. Some days I didn't sell anything, some days I sold a lot. But again, the sales only fueled the fire I had to create MORE. To experiment MORE. And again, my life was about to take another change. Maybe it was for the better. Maybe it wasn't. But I'll keep that for my next blog.

Till next time.

Friday, August 18, 2017


August 18, 2017

In the beginning......

I started this blog about 7 years ago and could never manage to find the time to "make it work." I love tinkering on the Internet and I find everything so fascinating that I want to try everything. I'm like a kid with a candy box when it comes to the Internet but to tell the truth, I just don't have the time to do everything I want to do.

As you can see from all the gadgets on either side of this mess of words, I'm an Internet retailer of jewelry. Yep, I've got an addiction that just won't let me go. So, first, a little background on that, which means I have to go WAYYYYYY back in my life for you to understand how I got to this particular place in my life.

First, I'm Canadian. Second, I'm also an American.

I grew up in North Vancouver and my first foray into selling was by way of "crafting".  My first foray into creating items was as a direct result of meeting a "Princess" of the Squamish Indian Band Tribe of British Columbia, Canada.  The year was 1965 and this very patient lady taught me to bead a simple ring. Little was I to know that this simple craft was going to open up a whole new world for me.

I took my creation home and from that point on all I could think of was beads, beads, beads! Where to find them, how much they cost, how I could get more. For my birthday I wanted beads. For Christmas I wanted beads. With my allowance in hand, I forewent movies and bought beads. Those test tube-like glass vials of 10 cent beads were my passion. I made ring after ring after ring after ring until I discovered that one of my fellow students in Elementary School ALSO did beadwork.  Her name was Janice and it was from her that I realized there was more to beaded jewelry than just rings. She created necklaces and bracelets and earrings and her efforts made my efforts look anemic! But Janice was kind and gave me a few pointers. First, there were books on beading. "Get one" she told me. (Pictured below is the first book I got on Indian beadwork.)

Second, there were outlets to purchase beads other than the local dime store. There was, she said, a fabulous shop on 4th Avenue in Vancouver called House of Orange that carried beads, beads and nothing BUT beads. I had to visit the store, she told me, but the problem was it was far into downtown Vancouver and I had only ventured by bus downtown a couple of times and really did not know my way to 4th avenue. 

After weeks of cajoling, my father finally volunteered to take me to House of Orange. Thank goodness he had business at that end of town because he set me at the store entrance and told me he'd be back in 1 hour. Little did he know that it would take more than 1 hour for me to take in the sights and scents of the place. Prices for the beads at House of Orange were a little more than the .10 a vial I was used to buying.  At .35 cents for a plastic pill container's worth of treasure I may have gotten more beads but the amount of color I could purchase had been drastically cut.

Walking into the House of Orange is still a memory that resides within me. It is so deeply engrained that I doubt I will ever lose it. That store. That wonderful, glorious, hippie-era store was simply magical. you could almost believe that a witch or wizard would walk in and order up something "not on the menu." The smell of incense and beads mingled freely with the scent of the wooden shelves, newly hewn as the store itself was only a few years old. To this day I can't really describe the scented air and I must admit I try to recreate it in my own living space to this day. I fall short each time but even the scent of burning incense can take me back in time to that first day I walked in the store.

My poor father. He waited patiently in the car while I doled out the small bit of cash I had. Still, $2 bought 6 different colors of beads and I was in seventh heaven all the way home. My father also sensed a change in me as normally I was quite a chatterbox while in the car but this time I simply picked up each container of beads, opened the lid and began to explore. New designs popped into my head with each opening. I couldn't wait to start creating!

Those first few weeks of playing with my new treasures were absolutely the best. But one thing became apparent quite quickly - once beads are used, you need more. And since I had an overabundance of finished product and couldn't possibly wear everything I created, there was only one thing left for me to do. Try selling what I made!

One day I took my creations to school and showed them to my classmates. I was surprised at how fast everything went. Not only did I sell everything, I also had orders. I don't think I had ever seen so much cash in my hands and, of course, the first thing I wanted to do was buy more beads. But my father didn't have a trip planned to Vancouver for awhile and I had to finally learn how to take the bus to get back to 4th Avenue.

My early years were all about beading jewelry. When I became a teen, I was still beading. And when my family moved from Lynn Valley to the region just below Grouse Mountain (Capilano Road), I was still beading. But all that was about to change. And on that note, I will leave this blog now and will start afresh another day.

Stay tuned!