Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ten years and celebrating!

My husband and I own a small electronics company that makes instruments that measure water quality. Well, this is a very special year for us and for Turner Designs.

For us, it is special because it was 10 years ago that Jim (my husband) came home and said, "Can I buy Turner Designs, dear?" I think I was actually stunned into silence for a few minutes. Buy a company? How? Why?

Why? Well, Jim wanted a chance to work for himself and he really liked the company he was working for and he thought that the people there were also great employees.

OK, those were good ideas, but this was going to be a big leap for us because in order to purchase Turner Designs, we had to pledge everything we owned and there was a chance that we could lose everything we owned. That was scary! But, we decided to go ahead and take this chance; this was really a once in a lifetime opportunity!

Sunset over Lake Tahoe
Now, ten years later, Turner Designs is doing well due to the hard work of everyone. And, this year was the best year ever! There was going to be great profit sharing for everyone and in addition, Jim and I decided that to reward everyone for working so hard that we would take the entire company to Lake Tahoe for the weekend!

So, that's what we did. This past weekend, we and 21 (out of 25) employees and guests went up to Stateline, Nevada, and stayed in one of the casinos. And, on Saturday, everyone got to play a special slot machine tournament for prizes of casino chips. When Jim and I got there, we decided to check out the casino floor and we were very pleasantly surprised to see that there was a set of slot machines set up just for us! And, the casino put up a sign for everyone to see.

All in all, this was a great weekend. I am very glad Jim and I took this plunge into capitalism. Over these 10 years, there have been very scary times and some very good times. And, I am glad to say that this year has been, I think, the best time. It took a lot of work from Jim, me and all of our employees, but this is one year we all get rewarded for that hard work. It really says something that many of our employees have stayed with us throughout this journey; and I am glad they did.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


With the royal wedding occurring such a short time ago, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about heirloom jewelry. Don't royalty and heirlooms go together? Especially heirloom jewelry?

What did you think about the ring that Prince William gave Kate Middleton when he proposed? This ring was easily recognized as the ring that Princess Diana, Prince William's mother, wore as her engagement ring. I thought it was a very sweet gesture. This is a great example heirloom jewelry; beautiful piece of jewelry with history of making it very special.

Handmade Peach Lacework of Pearls Necklace
I think most people would love to have some heirlooms of their very own. I know I would, wouldn't you? And, even though I concentrate on jewelry, jewelry isn't the only type of article that can be an heirloom. Heirlooms can range from a serving dish or platter that your mother or grand-mother used, to furniture and clocks.

Being expensive is not required for something to be an heirloom, in my view, but the linking of an item with a special person. Even better is having this item be linked to a special occasion as well.  And, I believe that the quality of an item helps; poor quality items usually are not kept or cannot last. And, in the latter quality, pearls are a good example - poor quality pearls will just wear away.

The Black Tie Affair
Handmade Pearl Earrings
In the end, I believe that we should try to purchase items that not only are special for ourselves, but also will be cherished for a long time after. That is why I make the jewelry I do, I want to make jewelry that can be worn for a special day, like your wedding, your graduation, a prom or an anniversary. Jewelry that is of great quality, what I call heirloom quality, that you will be proud to wear now and can pass down through the generations.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Musings on this week

As I look back on the events this past week, especially the one the United States will always remember, which is the death of Osama bin Laden. I do not want to celebrate the death of a fellow human being, but this case is different. He attacked us; took scores of innocent lives for his warped ideology and bragged about it. We, as a nation, needed to fight back. And only his death would sufficient punishment for his heinous crimes.

In addition this raid showed that the ben Landen of the medias was not the actual ben Lauden. through this raid, we showed ben Laden as the fraudI Not for him the life of the brave commander of his troops, the ascetic who lives simply with only a bedroll and his gun in a cave. No, he lived in a $1M villa in a resort community outside of ?????, Pakistan, with his youngest wife and their sons. There was no view from outside into the grounds; shielding bin Laden from view. For if you could see into this compound, you would see Coca-Cola and Pepsi and other products from a "decadent" society.

For in the end, what really took him down was us; our life, our dreams and our successes. He thought we were weak because we did not behave the way he thought we should and therefore, in his twisted mind, it was his duty to find and destroy the infidels. He thought it would be easy; bomb a few major targets and we would not be able to recover. What he didn't take into account, was the fact that for all our rhetoric against each other, we could and would pull together to fight him. There may be detours and some failures alone the way, but in the end, we knew what to do and pulled off this surgical strike agains him and his closest aids.

And, in the end, we are left with these words from the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence. Reading thee words always gives me chills. For almost 250 years, our country is unique because it was founded by men of ideals. The Preamble is simple, but what other country makes it the purpose of the state to allow its individuals "the pursuit of Happiness."

These four little words, "the pursuit of Happines," means that you and I can do what we want to do. If we want to collect figurines, we can, if we want to collect shot glasses, golf balls, jewelry, we can! We can start businesses to sell what we make or collect and no one can stop us!

So, what do you think about this momentous occasion? Did you do anything to celebrate? Let me know; I'd like your thoughts on this.

Thank you for letting me express myself. I look forward from hearing from you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


California Buckeye Bud
It seems like Spring is finally here in Los Gatos. I guess it took Easter to make sure of that. A month ago, the California buckeye trees were starting to leaf out; now they have flower buds - very long buds.

So, now I go outside and it is all sunny and I can't wait for our deck work to finish. That's one thing I had to get used to living on the hillside of the Santa Cruz Mountain chain. Deck maintenance! Constant deck maintenance. We don't have a backyard, our house is tucked into the hillside and because of that, we live on our deck. That means every year we have to take a look at our decking and decide which part really needs to be done this year and what part we can leave off until next year.

Well, this year we decided the next section to be done would be the portion of the deck out to what we call our "View Deck." The former owners had just a tiny little spot about 8' x 10' and the walkway out was just boards laid down on the ground. You had to walk single file to get to the view. Being on the ground, the walkway boards were rotting away and the ground shifts (lots of rain, hills begin to move... ) were making it hard to walk out. Plus the view deck itself was coming apart.

Deck Work with Snow
Back in February when it snowed here for the first time since 1976, I had taken a shot of the "skeleton" in trying to get more pictures of the snow.

Deck Work almost complete!
Now, it much closer to completion and we are eagerly awaiting its finish.  As you can see, we are almost there.

To give you a little idea of what I mean when I say our house in built into a hillside, take a closer look at the deck work. To the right of the decking, those are tree branches.  And, to the left is the retaining wall to hold back the hill.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'll be back soon.....

I have to apologize to all my followers for my lack of updates on me, my life in the Santa Cruz mountains in California and the antics of my two dogs.

My Sleeping Beauties
This has been a very rough month for me. I don't like to complain, but this month my CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) has flared and left me with virtually no energy and a lot of pain. My best shot of getting over this hump is for me to rest as much as possible.

I know I have missed playing with my dogs and seeing what is going on outside, and I hope you have missed my updates. All I can say, is please hang in there with me and I will be back soon with more funny dog stories.

I have to say that my dogs have not abandoned me during this time; they are sleeping right along with me. Well, not with me exactly, but they are sleeping none the less.  :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

I've got to say I'm really please that 2 people have chosen me for the Stylish Blogger Award and I procrastinated acknowledging it. I'm so ashamed.......   :(

So, very belated thank-yous to Milena of Just the Goods and Cathy of Headpin Wear.

And, now, I get to tell all of you 7 things about myself - I have to say, I don't like this part, I'm not very good at biographical writing... Enough procrastinating, here they are:

1.  I live in a lovely house in Los Gatos, California. Los Gatos is in the San Francisco Bay Area, down in the south part, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Los Gatos is a small town that still has a real downtown, with small shops. Since our house is in the mountains, the house is built into a hillside. This means that we have a lot of decking around our house. There is no level piece of land on our property. By the way, you can't find our house on Google Maps because our street is a private road, so they couldn't come up and take pictures.

2.  My husband and I own our own business. This is Turner Designs, which makes fluorometers. A fancy word there :)  These instruments are used to measure water quality, so a lot of researchers use them to watch what the ocean is doing. Some of our instruments are used around oil wells to check for oil in the water (there were a lot being used during the Gulf oil spill) and others are used to check the water in streams, lakes and cooling systems.

3.  My husband and I are both electrical engineers and we met at one of the companies we both worked at. He didn't like me when he first met me because I was hired to test this big in-house test system that he had built and I told him it didn't work! He was not a happy camper then. Obviously, that changed!  :)

4.  We have 2 daughters who are both taller than me, so that makes me the shrimp in the family. My husband is 6'1", daughter #1 is 5'5", daughter #2 is 5'10" and I am 5'2". This makes hugging my girls a little interesting. :)

5.  I quit working as an engineering manager (director level) when my oldest daughter was in kindergarten because she was diagnosed with a learning disability. I hated to quit, but I knew I had to stay home with her for a while to help her learn. Both daughters were thrilled!

6.  I volunteer and taught science in the elementary school that my daughters went to. And, when my oldest hit high school, I was the Robotics teacher. :)

7. I love animals and so does the rest of my family. I was such a soft touch, that my oldest daughter has a bird, a cockatiel named Dover and my youngest has a Dutch bunny named Oreo. We also have 2 Australian Shepherds, as I have written about before.

Boy, I feel really strange telling all of you about me. I wrote a lot more than I expected. I hope you found this little glimpse into my life interesting.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I have a weird dog :)

As you may know, we have 2 Aussies. One Aussie is from a breeder who was trying to breed a dog that could compete both as a show dog and as a herding dog. It wasn't a successful attempt. :)

Shadow is cute and friendly and loves to cuddle. But, for an Aussie, he's not too bright. So, when we went to get a second Aussie, I looked for a dog from a herding line. Actually, this dog is our third Aussie, our first one died from cancer and I missed her so much, I needed to get a puppy.

So, enter Penny. She is a herding dog that I got from a breeder in Missouri. She's smart, energetic and a lot of fun (and work). We are constantly learning new things that she can do. One of the strangest is the way she sits on the stairs. She will sit on one step and put her front legs on another! I have never seen a dog do this before, so of course, I had to take a picture.

She will sit this way outside too. I guess she is so long that it's more comfortable for her to sit this way. Every time I see her doing this, I have to laugh!

Shadow, on the other hand, will lay down every opportunity he can get. You can see how hard a life he has when you see him yawning when I try to wake him up and get him off the sofa. I'm going to bed, but Shadow would prefer that I leave him alone to sleep on the sofa all night.

I may be a softie with my dogs, but letting him sleep on the sofa all night - I don't think so.

Actually, both my husband and myself are real softies with our dogs. Both of them love to sleep on the sofa when ever they can. Penny still sleeps as a puppy, all sprawled out and when she does, you can see that she has very long legs.

In fact, I have to make sure she doesn't push me off the sofa when she stretches out her full length. :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jewelry by Jaynemarie: It's Raining, It's Pouring.....

Jewelry by Jaynemarie: It's Raining, It's Pouring.....

It's Raining, It's Pouring.....

Well, this past week has been an exciting week in my little spot of the Santa Cruz Mountains. This was the week of my daughter's Spring Break from UC Merced, and a Spring Break should have some sunshine in it, shouldn't it?
Well, not this week. It poured! And then it poured some more. I know, it's not snow, but this is our winter, and I have to say that if I don't see the sun, I get very depressed. So, this was a depressing week, right? No,
I have to look at the brighter things in my life, so I went around to find some.

First, my daughter came home for spring break! This is great! She says it's only because she didn't have the money to go away for her break; OK, I'll take that excuse and I won't raise your allowance either. :)

Second, the more it rains, the longer the stream on our property will run; and I love the sound the stream makes as it runs down the mountain. After this week's rain, I hope this means the stream will run into the summer. To have this stream run until next winter, it would have to rain a whole lot more. And, as much as I like this sound, I would rather have more sun. I'll buy a fountain to listen to in the summer.

To show you what happens when it rains, I have two pictures of this stream. One is from last week, before this deluge started. The second is from yesterday. The entire stream bed if full of water and most of the rocks are under water. I was a little worried about it at its peak, because one dog, Shadow (he's in the picture with my daughter above) is really sweet, but not a very smart Aussie. He was so fascinated by the fast water, he was leaning over farther and farther to look at it and I was really afraid he would fall in. That would not be one of his brighter moves!

Today the stream is down from its peak, but faster and with more water than before. A lot of the rocks have been rearranged and lost, so we may have to find others to line the stream bed with.

Even though Shadow was fascinated by the fast running stream, he doesn't like to go outside in the rain. He might get all of his pretty fur wet! And Australian Shepherds are herding dogs, too. Well, both Penny and he stayed in most of this week. Their favorite spot is, of course, our sofa. At least, they share!

The forecast is for this rain to end and we'll finally get some sun - and warmer weather. I'm all ready for that, and so are the dogs. They go crazy staying in the house all day, as do I.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Life in the Santa Cruz Mountains

As I let everyone know via my Facebook page, on Wednesday, March 16, we lost power. Well, now everything is fixed, so I can tell you what really happened.

Tree and Pole on Road
I was busily writing my weekly feature on a fellow BESTeam member, and had just finished it when the power went out. My first thought was "great - not" in that I finished the feature and needed to post it. Well, here's were technology helped. My new iPhone came with a hotspot (internet connection via mobile phone) and so I quickly started this application up and was able to transfer my feature up to my blog and let everyone know I was finished. I wasn't really paying much attention to anything else, but getting this done.

Well, once finished, I realized that the lights were not really off, just very low and wavering in intensity. That's odd, that's not how an outage usually works. So, I went around the house and tried to figure out what was going on. I noticed a buzzing sound and found it came from outside, so as I tried to trace it, I realized I was smelling smoke! SMOKE! Oh, no! I'm surrounded by trees and my house has cedar siding; this is scary!

Scorch Marks on Road
OK, back into the house for my binoculars, to look for any signs of smoke. Nothing I could see around the house, so I went out to the road and since I heard arcing and hissing from down the road, I went down. As I went, I saw power lines on the road. I looked closer and I could see scorch marks - the line is still live - I better keep clear.

Broken Pole w/ Broken Insulators

As I round the curve in the road, I see wood on the road; it was a power pole and a big tree. I got closer and saw that it was a smashed power pole - you can see broken insulators.

Fire in Trees
Wow, the damage was worse than I thought. But, where was the smoke coming from? I looked up, and there in the trees, the power line had started a fire. I called 911 and the fire fighters were here in minutes! We were lucky, since there has been so much rain, everything was too wet to burn. The only place that was burning was just where the line touched the tree tops and it wasn't spreading.

Tree next to Workers
That was the good news, the bad news was that it would take PG&E 24 to 48 hours to fix this. Oh no. No lights, no heat, no computer. It turned out to be done quicker than expected. It was a huge tree, you can see its size in the picture on the right, in relation to the workers waiting for the big equipment.

Lights came back on in a few hours; the power company rerouted some lines to get power up quicker.

Penny & Shadow w/
Cut Tree
Today, I went out before the rains started again and took a look at what they did. They sawed up the tree and left most of it behind. Take a look at the pieces of the trunk - they're huge! I put my dogs in front to get a picture of this.

New Power Pole
And, with my final picture, you can see that the power pole had snapped in half (20' left standing) and they just put a new pole right next to what was left of the old pole. The line that is running low, is the phone company's line. I hope they'll repair their lines too, but I doubt it.

If you want to see more pictures, check out my Facebook Page.  I have an album of pictures there. Like me there and follow me on Twitter - JewlryJaynmarie to keep up with my life and my jewelry.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Countdown to Spring

We're just adjusted our clocks and I know I am past ready for Spring to be here. This has been an unusual year of weather, even Northern California weather.
  • Rains started a little late
  • Then it poured
  • Followed by days of warmth and sunshine
  • Freak dusting of snow 
  • Now, it's raining again.....
Well, in between the showers, I went outside to check for signs of Spring. After all, Spring is officially here in 6 days! {on Sunday, March 20th}
Bee gathering nectar
from rosemary blooms

Want to play? Please....
I found out that I am not the only one anxious for good weather.

Bees humming from flower to flower, only to disappear when the rain starts again.

California Fuchsia 
One of my dogs, Penny, running to grab a tennis ball and then trying to get me to play with her.

And, finally, some more flowers! This time from my California Fuchsia in a pot outside on the deck.

Now that I know that I am not the only one anxious for Spring to be here. The bees have started looking for flowers. My dogs want to go outside and play. And, one of California's native species, telling me that, yes, it's almost Spring!

I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Life, Dogs and Thunder God Vine

Today, I'm going to write on a subject that important to me and to many others who suffer constant pain. My pain is from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. For those of you who don't know what Chronic Fatigue (CFS) is, its a constant lack of any energy at all. Fatigue is really a misnomer, because many people who see the word fatigue say, "oh yes, I know what it is; I've been really tired lately too." Well, not to get morbid, but CFS fatigue goes way beyond mere tiredness; you don't have the energy to move at all. And, there is the constant pain as well. If you want to read more about CFS, the famous writer Laura Hillenbrand, the best-selling author of “Seabiscuit: An American Legend" has CFS and here is an interview with her about her writing and living with CFS.

Now, I don't want you to think I sit around in pain all the time, I have pain medication that helps, and I know how much to push myself. So, some days, all I can do is lay down and read; other days I can make jewelry and work on my computer to support my blog, my shop and my teammates. And, I have to say, watching my dogs, always brings a smile to my face. Laughter is sometimes the best medicine.  

So, I was surprised when Time Magazine devoted an issue to dealing with pain. I was a little afraid to read it because many doctors don't believe in CFS or constant pain, but I was pleasantly surprised. It actually said that doctors are starting to treat pain as a real disease in itself. And, they talked about what you could do for pain other than medication; things like massage, qi gong, yoga, acupuncture and taking something called thunder god vine.

Now, I know what the other items on this list are, but thunder god vine? What is it? How do you use it? And, most important at all, where and how do you get some?

Help! Any clues? Ideas? Hints?

Saturday, February 26, 2011


 I couldn't believe it when I woke up this morning. It Snowed! It hasn't snowed in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1976.

It wasn't much, but it was enough to confuse my dogs. They couldn't figure out what this white stuff was. They wandered around, they sniffed, they licked. It was funny to see.

Of course, it didn't last long. Just until the sun came up. Then it was goodbye to the light dusting of powder we got. Its a good thing; I'm not sure how all my plants took this brief kiss of winter. I guess I'll find out next week.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spring ?

I know here in California, we don't experience the real cold many of you regularly have each winter.  But, our winters can get long, because they are our rainy season. Yes, it really only rains here in California in the winter - but when it rains, it can rain for weeks on end. We start to see moss growing everywhere.
California Maple against a rare winter blue sky

Whenever we get a clear day, with blue sky, I always start wishing for spring to be here. But,  when the rain stops, that's when the weather gets cold (for us). Even so, I crave the sun so much, I go outside for some sun therapy!

California Buckeye
This time, I decided to go out and look to see if I could find any signs of spring. Our first sign is usually the California Buckeye. This tree is uniquely Californian; during the rainy season it waits for the first rays of the sun and then it starts budding like crazy. It has started its race to propagate. So, here it was - my first sign of spring! I was so pleased.

Once I saw that, I started hoping that I might see some early flowers, and yes, here is an azalea bush bravely budding. There is danger here, since it is still February and we may get a freeze or two if the weather remains clear. But, this azalea has started, and if its lucky, it will bloom. If not, the freeze will kill all those flowers.

 Now, I feel a little better, I have had some sun and have seen my first signs of spring. I know we will probably get more rain; we need it, since winter rains are what keeps California in water for the rest of the year. But, having seen some sun, blue sky, flower and tree buds, I can deal with rain again for a while.

How do you handle your winter blues? Share your coping mechanisms here.