Thursday, September 30, 2010

Old interest revived!


I first realized my interest in beekeeping while at Ortho Research Library and we did a hallway display on apiaries and the tools, clothing, books, etc. for the beekeeper.

Having spent quite a bit of time in the yard this year, I've been noticing the insect populations. I had my first close encounter with bees and pollination while I was taking closeup photos of my sunflowers. I noticed the flecks of pollen leaves beneath the object flower (so had to take a photo - at right). Then I noticed the bees and tried to get some closeups of them (really need to get a better camera for that).

This photo session of course led my mind to generating products for bee related themes. Thus, I began researching bees and beekeeping(again). I had a link to a supply store in Sebastopol, so I decided to take last weekend to devote to honey and bees.

Saturday I drove to Sebastopol to vist the store "BeeKind". It is quite interesting. The front is devoted to various types of honey in various size jars. Next is a small room with beeswax and items related to making candles. In back is a large room for beekeeping supplies (clothing, hives, extractors, etc.).

While talking with the staff, I was told about a free "beginning beekeeping" class for the next day. So ... I had to drive back on Sunday for this informative talk. (This was during our second big heat wave of 100+ temperatures - so I kept cool while in the air conditioned car and the auditorium had air conditioning also.)
Here is a video that was made of the speaker Doug Vincent setting up new hives.

I came home and continued my investigation as to what bee groups were on the internet, where local groups and suppliers are located, etc. I joined the forums at Of course, I began making more bee themed products for my store.

Here are the most recent products I have made:
T-shirt - Beekeepers do it for the honey shirt Bumper Sticker - Apiarists do itf or the hive bumpersticker

Monday, September 6, 2010


I love sunflowers. They are so interesting to watch growing in the garden. One can almost see the growth while watching, they grow so fast. I love the bright yellow flowers against the blue sky and the large green leaves just amaze me with their vitality.

This year I had an exceptionally large flower and was able to take photographs at several stages. For the first time, I saw bees pollinating the florets. I also happened to see the that pollen was so thick that it fell onto the underlying leaves when the bees flew away.

Now the growing cycle is coming to an end and harvest is just around the corner. What does one do with the seeds and plants?

Some easy how-to articles from eHow (there are many more interesting articles)
How to shell
How to toast
How to compost

Here is one of my products on Zazzle that I made from my recent photos.
Postcard - Sunflower! postcard

There are so many wonderful products with sunflowers at Zazzle. Here is a link to just the posters (can you locate mine?).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Footwear affects joint pain ...

As many people are aware, your shoes will sometimes affect different areas of your body by easing, or increasing stress that causes pain. A recent report from Rush University Medical Center on a study of various types of footwear, indicates that flat, flexible soles may relieve stress on arthritic knee joints. (see article from Chicago Tribune).

Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not wear anything with more than a 1/2 inch heel. I also have to find WIDE shoes and then I have to find these shoes in the 5-6 1/2 women's size (US). This is not an easy task. It takes me a long time to locate something meeting these requirements and then also finding appropriate color and price adds to the difficulty.

So I was quite surprised when I began designing for Zazzle's Ked shoe lines. Here are 2 of my favorites.
Shoe - Women's slipon kedsshoe
Shoe - Women's slipon
Shoe - Sky High Balloon kedsshoeShoe - Sky High Balloon

There are many fun designs by other ShopKeepers on Zazzle

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Garden Walkway

It has been a while since my last post.

I am 98% finished with my first backyard garden walkway. I plan at least one more and several smaller linking paths - another year. I spent 2 weeks digging out the area for the path, then this last week I graded and laid the stones. (I pinched a nerve in my hip, so was out of commission for 3 days, but am nearly 100% back now.) I have only to fill in the gaps between stones now. It is really looking good. Photos may come next week.

I have my entire backyard pictured in my head and it is slowly coming to resemble those pictures. However these are nothing near to the images that appear on some of the Zazzle shopkeepers products.

Here is one of my favorites:

Monday, August 9, 2010


As anyone who knows me will know, I have been dabbling in photography for many years.
I began with a Kodak Brownie (with flashbulbs!) as my first camera when I was about 10.

I think I may have had several other "beginner" cameras before my first 35mm SLR. I used the Pentax K1000 for many years and most of my collection of slides was using this camera with several different lenses (from 28mm to 500mm with a multiplier -- see image - you can purchase this as a small poster in my store)

I finally decided to join the digital age and got a small Coolpix. So neat not having to worry about film and being able to see the image immediately and delete it if it is bad. I was saving my money to purchase a "real" digital SLR and I had a break in. All of my photo gear and electronics were stolen!

OK - with the insurance money, I bought the Canon EOS. Superb! I took several shots to get the hang of all the features and ... I was burgled AGAIN!!!

After a few months, I got over the shock and decided I needed some kind of camera, so I bought a used Pentax K1000 at a thrift shop and then some inexpensive lenses to approximate my original 35mm setup. About 2 years later, I bought another Cookpix and just recently, I've been taking the time to learn all of it's secrets. It is pretty fantastic, but I really miss the wide angle and long distance lenses.

I've been uploading some of the better images to my products on my Zazzle store/s. (See link above)
There are many fantastic photographers on Zazzle here is just a sample of those that have created calendars with their photos.
I just had to post a favorite that is related to my Muir heritage in Scotland.
Beautiful Scotland Calendar 2011 calendar
Beautiful Scotland Calendar 2011 by claire_shearer
Many more calendar designs available at zazzle

Friday, July 30, 2010

Drawing by John A. Muir

My brother has been kind enough to give me permission to use some of his drawings on my store items. The most recent item I have posted is this:

I do not have much talent with drawing or painting, my talents lean towards photography. If I want to post a knight with my work, I will have to attend an event by the Society of Creative Anachronism and take my camera. I have a friend whose son is active in this society and his wearing apparel is quite fantastic, including the chain mail.

Another of John's pieces is a drawing of ALCAZAR in Spain. I have several items posted for this. Here is one:
Alcazar - Magnet magnet
Alcazar - Magnet by bkmuir
Design a custom made magnet on zazzle

To see other items by other Zazzlers click here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Darby the polydactyl cat

Darby will be 2 years old in September. I have shared my life with him since March 12, 2009. He is a polydactyl cat (many toed) with 7 toes on each front paw and an extra claw on each of his rear heals.

I adopted him at a local pet store where they have adoptions every weekend. It seems that not only the unusual toe configuration, but his black color were obstacles to his being adopted. Neither of these bothered me. I picked him up and he purred the whole time I held him, even though there were lots of people around and dogs barking, etc.

I purchased a new cat carrier and paid the required fees and brought him home.

I put him in the den where I could close the door and let him get adjusted outside of the carrier. When I went back a short time later, I couldn't find him! I looked all over, under the couch and chairs, on top of the book cases - there's not too many places for an animal to hide in that small room. I finally found him on top of the books in the bottom shelf of the bookcase, behind the rocking chair. Being black and sitting up under the overhang of the upper shelf, he was "invisible".

For the next 3 months I rarely saw Darby. I knew he was in the house, as the litter box needed changing and the food disappeared shortly after I placed it in the bowl. His second favorite spot to spend the day, after the book case, was under my bed. Again, being black I only was able to see his eyes. If they were shut, I couldn't find him.

I thought about getting him a collar that had lights. I found one, but it only lit up when the wearer moved. I needed something to tell me where he was when he wasn't moving!

The first several weeks, I sat in the den with him and read out loud, so that he would get used to my voice. I didn't force him to sit with me - I could rarely touch him, let alone hold him.

In May I had an episode with my back, that basically left me bedridden for over a week. Darby sensed something different and would sit on the end of the bed, or the couch, when I was laying down. I even got to pet him once with the tip of my fingers.

Well, Darby came out of his shell after that and began his antics to spice up my life. First hobby was climbing the curtain on the dining room window, or the curtains in the den. After getting him to accept that this was not an approved activity, he started communicating by banging cupboard doors. Those extra toes make it so much easier to grab the edge of a kitchen cupboard and let it bang back. I learned to get up and feed him when this happened. I have tried to limit my pavlovian response to specific times of day and basically we have agreed on 4-5 am and 4-5 pm for feedings.

I eventually put latches on all cat reachable doors so that I don't have a heart attack at 3 am (or even 3 pm) on an explosive bang from the kitchen. So no banging doors for a while. Recently Darb has been able to open one of the doors held by a magnet latch, and he can get a soft bang from the pan drawer door that is "latched" with velcro strips. His current alarm to get me up is to knock books off of the shelves in the den.

At first this was accidental when he jumped up to the top of the 5 foot shelf - his rear feet probably landed on the books on the top shelf. When he realized this would wake me up, he began doing it on purpose. I have watched him jump on top of the 3 foot bookcase and pull books out individually from between the book ends, so that they bang down onto the floor.

Well, after 16 months, we are pretty much adapted to each other. Every morning, while I have breakfast in the rocker by the living room window, with my feet up on the footrest, Darby comes voluntarily to lay with his rump near my knees and his head on my ankles. This is fine until he gets so relaxed that he begins to slide off of my legs and the footrest and trys to grab hold with all 14 claws to keep from sliding. Usually this is on my bare legs! He lands in a pool on the floor and wakes up, then climbs back up and goes back to sleep.

He rarely sits with me at any other time of the day, although, he will sometimes come and sit in the window when I am on the computer. Usually he just communicates his dismay at being ignored by knocking pens, letter openers, calculators, etc off of the desk to get my attention. A friend tells me that as he gets older, he will "settle" down. Either that, or he will grow up and be able to knock over bigger objects!

Well if you have a polydactyl cat in your life, you might be interested in these items I found in the Zazzle Market place .

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Genealogy is in the family

Recently, I have gotten reacquainted with my genealogy program and updating my information to the internet. I was really excited when several cousins came forward to share family information.

I discovered that my paternal grandfather's paternal grandparents died in South Dakota, not Scotland as I had assumed (need to get more details on this).

I also met a cousin who posted his photo on the internet and bears a striking resemblance to my father - they even share the same first name!

For those of you who would like to express your interest in genealogy research by wearing a t-shirt or using a coffee mug, etc. You might find something Here (general sayings in all of Zazzle), or in these individual stores:
Tennessee Backroads Photography
Family Treed

Other shopowners with Preservation related items

There are many Zazzle shops that have all kinds of themes. Here are some examples from shops that include architectural and historic preservation related items.

This is what I call dedicated "preservation" - Teutonic Order castle Neidenburg built in the XIV century. The castle was destroyed many times: during Napoleonic wars, I World War and II World War. Rebuild in the years 1960-1965.

Also ... from a historical preservation park near me, called Heritage Village. It's in danger of being closed down due to budget cuts.
Vintage Grocery postcard
Vintage Grocery by RebeccaBrittain
Many other Postcard designs on zazzle

Sunday, July 4, 2010

My First post

Okay - today is the day that I begin to "blog."

I have many interests. Over the years I have been involved in various Historic Preservation groups. Currently, I do not belong to any group, but I am currently a member of "The National Trust for Historic Preservation".

A few days ago I was trying to think of how I could convey my concerns over the destruction of historic buildings and I developed a few designs for my Zazzle store. As I come up with more designs, they will be shown in my "Historic Preservation" window to the right.