Saturday, March 1, 2014

3rd Annual Challenge of Music - Hope

3rd Annual Challenge of Music
It is time for the 3rd Annual Challenge of Music.

The rules for the challenge this year:
  • Pick a significant year in your life history. Now pick a song to help tell that story. Your playlist is as unique as you are! The music of your past weaves a story that only you can tell. The choices of song will tell us a lot about who you are, where you come from, what is important to you and give great insight.
  • Create something of your choice - jewelry, accessory or some other artistic representation - that helps us experience this special song. I am opening this challenge up to any artistic interpretation. Whatever way this inspiration moves you, follow its lead!
Last year I picked the music for the 2nd Annual Challenge of Music and you see more about it here.  This year I wanted it be about mom and the song/music that is significant to her.

You better grab some coffee or tea - and maybe some food - because this is going to be a long one.

In 2013, mom and I decided to have an extension built on the back of her house, there was turmoil at work for both of us, mom had health issues, which made for a very chaotic year for us both.

I thought I would share pictures of our piece as I told our story - the piece for this challenge is called "Hope".

Last January, mom and I decided that the best thing for us both was to have me move back in with mom so we could share expenses - here is where we first talked about it.  It took eleven months (of hell) for it to finally happen, three times longer than was expected, and my house didn't go on the market until January 2014 instead of last summer.

Some highlights of our journey of frustration, despair and flickers of hope:

  1. The first shock to mom was the destruction of her yard.  She had to have several trees removed and some moved around the yard - the yard was a complete and utter mess. The yard mom worked on for 13 years was gone.  Mom just about bawled, and all I could tell her was "It's okay mom."
  2. Next shock - when they built the house originally, the contractors laid the water/sewage pipes from the street under the driveway and the sidewalk to the front door.  We had to get an exception to connect directly to the street - then more destruction.
  3. The concrete - oh boy - the concrete.  The subcontractor who usually does their work was going through chemo, so the builders tried another crew.  That crew set us back five weeks, and they left mountains of dirt and debris piled up in the yard, over poured concrete, damaged the back fence and further demolished mom's yard.
  4. Next - the venting and furnace subcontractors (do you see a pattern yet?) - they couldn't work us into their schedule, so another subcontractor is hired and put us behind another 4 weeks.  When they finally showed up, they started the work one day, left aluminum ductwork hanging from the ceiling and then they didn't come back.
    • Had to then wait for the original subcontractor to have an opening, and once they got to the house we found out that the prior subcontractor had barely made specs, had vents in the wrong locations and not enough of them, and they were not big enough.  They had to tear everything out and start over.
  5.  Up next is the roof.  We were only going to have a new roof on the extension, but when the inspector was up there, he said that we were going to have to replace the existing roof in five years, so we went ahead and replaced the whole roof.  Well, the day they replaced the roof, Indiana (lovely Indiana weather) had an unexpected pop-up storm.  There was nothing our contractor could do because he worked up until it started lighting and pouring down rain, and he had to stop.  A short while after he left, it was still raining.  Mom went out into the garage, and she said that there were waterfalls pouring out of the overhead lights, the ceiling exhaust fan and the attic entrance.  Our studio was basically underwater - all of our tools, equipment and supplies were just standing in water.  Mom was totally freaking out.
  6. Finally in November - a week before Thanksgiving - mom and I moved me into the extension - all by ourselves, except for the last piece of furniture.  Our neighbors happened to drive by and as mom and I about dropped my new comfy couch into the mud. They stopped what they were doing and helped us move it.  Thank goodness for awesome neighbors. 
  7. But wait - there is even more (I am sure I am hearing groaning from the audience).  When the builders put in the water pipes they routed them through the ceiling.  We weren't worried about them leaking because they expand up to 30 times their normal size.  What we were worried about was the pipes freezing.  I actually think it was the third or fourth day in the house, the pipes froze (now is the time I burst into tears).  Found out the crew didn't put as much insulation in as they were supposed to - the builder came to the house in less than 30 minutes and added more insulation to the attic.  A few weeks later, the builder came again and added even more insulation.  He is still not happy with what is up there, so in the spring he plans on adding even more.

If you are still with us - thank you - but we have still more 2013 chaos to share.  You might want to stop and get some coffee - I will wait :)

Mom's health surprise.  Mom was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in July.  Also in July mom was told she would need double knee replacement surgery down the road.  Then in October, mom finally decided that after years of neck/shoulder/arm pain to have the neck fusion surgery (C5,6,7) and then discovered that she is no longer a candidate for the surgery.  Let me tell you, if mom wasn't swearing by now, I would do all the swearing for her.  I am sure she would learn some new words :)

At work mom has been trying to actively raise awareness of bullying in higher education among faculty and staff by writing the president of the university, human resources, and employee relations.  Many avenues were being pursed with a high personal cost to mom both emotionally and physically.  Also, mom just lost her boss to another college, and she was trying to keep the team going in the interim (new boss started in December).

And, of course, the turmoil with our small business.  Because of the flooding in the garage and damage to the tools, equipment and supplies, we were very low on inventory and it was, and still is, impossible to work in the garage.  Both mom and I are panicking!  Then unexpectedly, we were not accepted as artists in two of our best-selling juried art shows.  We had participated in them for years, and we were caught off guard.  It was a blow emotionally and financially.  Mom and I were left scrambling to figure out how to replace the loss of that potential income.

But - there is always hope!  In late November mom was searching YouTube for something (and of course she can't remember what she was looking for) and she stumbled upon a clip called "Shy Boy and his Friend Shock the Audience with The Prayer - Unbelievable".

Mom has no idea why she decided to watch the video because she usually only uses YouTube for training videos, rarely for entertainment purposes.  Mom said that Jonathan and Charlotte began to sing.  Mom was stunned by the magic created by the duo - she was totally blown away.  Mom can't remember any other music that has affected her so profoundly.  Mom said her chest seemed to swell with emotion and her mind started to slow down (mom's mind is constantly racing) allowing her to enjoy and absorb what she was hearing.

Mom said she watched the clip over and over.  Mom then asked me to download their first album "Together".  Mom has listened to the whole album every day since I downloaded it for her.  You can see more of Jonathan and Charlotte by going to their site or their Facebook page.

Mom still can't understand why she loves the album so much, because some of the songs are in Italian and she doesn't even know what is being said.  The only way mom can explain why she loves their music is because they epitomize hope!

Everything in the last year has been dragging both mom and I down.  Both of us, I think, had given up on hoping for something better.

Mom says that Jonathan and Charlotte gave her a gift - every time that she listens to their album (I have mom and the waiting list for their new album) - mom is reminded of that gift and is thankful.

So - that is how we (I should say mom) came up with our piece for the Challenge of Music.  Mom drew up two pendants (one for her and one for me).  I sawed out the exterior of the pendants and mom sawed out the interior.  We then filed and sanded the pendants, and then I enameled them.  Mom wanted her "Hope" pendant in red.

I enameled my pendant in black, purples and pinks and if you go here you can see what I based my colors on.  I still have to make beads to go with the pendant and then I will assemble it at a later date.

The beads mom used were some of our red "Sugar" beads, fresh water pearls, and red Czech beads.  We then finished the piece off with a Sterling Silver toggle clasp.

If you made it to the end of this long-winded saga, you are a real trooper!

Mom and I want to thank Miss Erin for the wonderful challenges she provides everyone to participate in.  The challenges are always fun and exciting.

I am going to try using the InLinkz tool.  If it doesn't work, please go to Erin's blog to see a list of everyone who is participating in the Challenge of Music.


  1. So sorry to here every thing that went wrong, but glad that you still have hope. The necklace if fab. I hope your 2014 is amazing to make up for it!!!

  2. What an incredible story. You two have sure been through a lot and I would like to believe that it can only get better from here. What a great outlook to choose "hope" as the centerpiece of your design. I like the red & white, but at heart I'm a purple girl so I can't wait to see how the final design turns out using the black/purple centerpiece.

  3. What a beautiful clip! Your horror story of the trials of changing your lives is unbelievable. Kudos to both of you for hanging on and for the creation of this gorgeous piece!

  4. Oh Miss Beth! Miss Evie! I knew that you were going through this renovation but I had no idea of the struggles you were having. This is an incredible saga. How awful that you were taken advantage of in so many ways by these contractors. I am glad that there is a silver lining and you are keeping hope alive. Wishing you more sunny days ahead! Thank you for sharing your talent and your personal music playlist with us in the 3rd Annual Challenge of Music. Enjoy the day! Erin

  5. I totally remember that video and those two. They are certainly inspirational. Watching it again made me tear up. I am so sorry that last year was so long and hard on you both. I hope this year makes up for it. Your pendants are perfect! They will remind you that things can only get better from here. :)

  6. A beautiful story about hope. Your pendants are just amazing and so perfect for what you and your mom have been through this last year. This is the first time I have seen that video and I have watched it three times now. Thank you for reminding us there is always hope.

  7. Oh goodness. I remember when you were having issues with the construction but I didn't realize that it was so bad. I am so glad that you are on the other side of it and are now in the 'recovery' phase. Your necklace is perfect and really symbolizes what kept you and your mom going. Here's to better times.

  8. Bravo for getting through so many challenges, you both deserve a medal, I love reading stories such as yourself where you and your mum are so close and support each other and get through to the other side. I love your design, simply fabulous!

  9. I am hoping that 2014 is a wonderful year for you both and that it more than makes up for 2013. I do believe that when one door closes, another opens. You've both created such beautiful art in spite of the difficulties - amazing!

  10. I'm so late reading all of these, but man, you had an awful year! I'm hoping right along with you that 2014 will be a massive improvement! And I love your pendants and necklace, just so fitting.


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