Wednesday, September 20, 2006

B is for Beads...

B is for Beadlust, which swept me into a glorious beaded pathway back in 1985. Beads are my passion. Mary, a reader here, sent me a surprise package of beady treasures, which arrived yesterday. Oh heavens, it was grand! I’ve bought beads from traders and in China and in all of Eastern Europe; and bought beads at countless conferences from countless vendors; and bought beads from bead shops in countless states; and bought countless books and magazines about beads… You’d think maybe I’d seen them all. But no! This little package arrives, and beadlust bursts forth as I examine each of the precious little treasures within… all of them new to me… not one of them a duplicate of beads in my more than ample stash. Don’t you just love it!!!! Thank you, Mary!

set of beads given to me by a friend

B is for Bike, which I have, and Biker Babe, which I guess I am. The gentlewoman in me doesn’t like either of these terms and would prefer Motorcycle and Motorcycle Rider. But those words don’t start with B, so for now we’ll go with the vernacular. The picture below shows me with my third motorcycle, a Suzuki 800 Intruder, which I bought in 2004 and have ridden a little over 5,000 miles since. Generally when I tell someone I ride a motorcycle, they will say, “Oh! Do you ride a Harley?” With apologies to Janet and her purring cat, Harley, my response is emphatically, no! I rode on a Harley once as a passenger… one time was more than enough. They are excruciatingly loud, vibrating, testosterone-loaded pieces of junk. Do I have a strong enough opinion on that one?

Robin Atkins, bead artist and her Suzuki motorcycle

B is for British Columbia, the westernmost Canadian province. Riding two old (1979) Honda Goldwings and my Suzuki, Robert (husband), Matt (brother), Karen (Matt’s wife, riding as a passenger), and I just returned from a 7-day motorcycle ride through BC and the Jasper-Banff part of Alberta. The second day out, riding from Pemberton to Lilooet, was BC at its scenic best. Here are a couple of pictures from that day.

Pemberton to Lilooet, British Columbia, photo by Robin Atkins

Pemberton to Lilooet, British Columbia, photo by Robin Atkins

B is for Beaver. Robert has a special affinity for beavers, and has been collecting Beaver Wood for some time now. Many barkless, tooth-marked branches and sticks with chewed ends embellish our property. They are branches with remarkable history… once a growing tree, then part of a Beaver building project, then washed down some stream into a river, then flowing into the sea, then found by Robert on one of our beaches, and now standing as a reminder of Beaver Wisdom by our front door. As we drove by Green Lake off the Cariboo Highway, Robert noticed some Beaver Work. A few minutes later he pulled to the side of the road and requested that we return to take a better look. And pictures. Of course, a couple of the chips came home in his pockets. Could Beaver be his totem animal?

beaver work near Green Lake, British Columbia, photo by Robin Atkins

B is for Beautiful. So many things are beautiful, although many times it’s an inadequate word. For example, if you’ve ever explored the 150-mile Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff, you know what I mean by running out of beautiful and all of its synonyms in the first 3 miles. In 2000, Robert and I (as passenger) did the ride in sunshine. We could not go a half a mile without stopping to snap pictures (film cameras at that time). Our fingers were sore and we’d each shot over 400 exposures by the end of the day. Clearly, it is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. This time, the weather turned early winter with near freezing temperatures, rain, sleet, and even some snow around the ice fields. This is challenging on motorcycles, and requires full involvement on the part of the drivers. Yet, even with that, it was beyond beautiful… the way the clouds wrapped themselves around the mountains, the way the rocks glistened with wet, the way the new snow glowed even under dark skies. Robert (whose passion is photography) took many more pictures than I did, and maybe when he gets them processed I’ll share a few of them. Meanwhile, here is one of mine. As good as any photo may be, the amazing beauty of the mountains, streams, glaciers, fall colors, smells, wetness, snow, straggling wildflowers, and wildlife remains way more clear in my mind than in our images.

view from Icefield Parkway in the Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada, photo by Robin Atkins

B is for Bull Elk. On the grounds of Becker’s Chalet, our lodging near Jasper, a herd of elk has made a nest for themselves over the past year or so. They seem to have no concern whatsoever about all the tourists with their cameras. You can see one of the calves and a cow below. It’s rutting season, so the Bull of the herd was a bit testy, putting his head down and starting a charge toward the camera crowd on several occasions, driving people to hide behind trees or shrubs, or flee to their cabins. The evening of our arrival, a smaller Bull came to challenge Mr. Dude… quite a visual and auditory spectacle! For hours we heard the other-world sounds of them bugling at each other, and sometimes the crash of their antlers. Mr. Dude ran back an forth along the boundary of his turf, in the woods just beyond our cabin, keeping Mr. Intruder to the other side of his cows and calves. Mr. Intruder attempted again and again to get through to the herd, but failed on this day to get past Mr. Dude’s ample rack. I tried to take pictures, but didn’t get any good ones due to the distance (I wasn’t about to get closer!) and the speed of the Bulls.

elk bulls, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada, photo by Robin Atkins

elk calf, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada, photo by Robin Atkins

elk cow, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada, photo by Robin Atkins

B is for Back Roads. We love Back Roads, Blue (on the map) Highways with only two-lanes and no traffic, the sounds and smells of wildlife, farms, streams and rural living, the slowed down pace, both physically and mentally. We ride the Back Roads as much as possible. Here is a picture taken just beyond the Washington side of a little-known border crossing, Nighthawk, west of the main highway down the Okanogan Valley. Imagine stopping along a narrow road by a small building, waiting for the one and only customs officer on duty to appear. Not a single other person or car in the vicinity. Sweet!

stream crossed by the road from Nighthawk, photo by Robin Atkins

B is for Birthday. Today my odometer clicked past number 63 to the 64 marker.

B is for Blessings. Sixty four years filled with more blessings than I can count, including you, dear readers! I’m Blessed to have had a Bountiful life so far, with eager anticipation of more ahead and no unresolved regrets.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. B is also for Beautifully written -- as always! Although motorized bikes scare me, I would gladly have foregone my fears to have seen & done what you did on your trip. Thank you for letting me share in your experience vicariously; what a great trip! (And Happy Birthday to you, too, youngster!)

  3. Happy Birthday, robin....what a wonderful trip!

    (and welcome've been missed!)

  4. Happy Birthday, Beautiful Brave Biking Beader!

  5. Anonymous10:57 PM

    So glad that you were in BC. I live in Victoria and have just had a friend (who lives on your island), purchase two of your books... for me! I can't wait to get them. I love your blog and am glad that you are back so that I can continue the daily reading!
    Happy Birthday!

  6. I don't know where to begin! I absolutely love your "B" words! And Harley is not offended that you own a Suzuki!

    Apparently you are one day and one year ahead of me!

  7. You share your bithday with my 21 year old son and he is a biker too. He has the same opinion of Harleys as you do so that can't be bad. Happy Birthday and Happy Beading - you give joy to many


    Sounds like your time away was just marvelous. Excellen, and smile inducing, post as always.

    You've been missed in case you didn't notice. =)


  9. Anonymous6:29 AM

    Tim, my sweetie and hubby for 42 years, used to spend a lot of time in Alberta in construction camps, and on weekends he would travel up and down the Jasper-Baniff highway--this was in the 60's and 70's when he was basically gone from home September thru about March or April. When something like a death of our friends or family would happen, I had to call the RCMP's in the area and tell them to put a message on the board at each stop along the highway. He would walk out in the bush and get friendly with the mountain goats and he always said the same thing--he'd call when he got back--about the beauty. I've only seen it in the dead of winter, but it is still beyond beautiful. Speaking of snow, we are getting some in our high country and it may come down to 6,000 ft. tonight. Not sticking, but it would be our first snow. We are at 6200 to 6500 ft. out here. What a great way to celebrate your birthday with all the beauty and close friends on the trip. Love it.
    Mary T.

  10. That is one cherry-looking bike, Robin!
    Happy Birthday and welcome back...great to see your pictures and read your prose, too... ;-)

  11. Welcome back, Happy Birthday, and thanks for your comment on my blog.
    I had a Suzuki once, a little 250cc "X6 Hustler" sort of a street racer W/highly tuned two stroke motor and 6 speed tranny. Fast little bugger. Had to sell it to repair the plumbing on my house. Probably a good thing I did, it was a lot of fun.

  12. So happy to see you safely back. Love your entries from your trip. Fantastic country! Hope your birthday was as special as you are.

  13. Dear Readers! Hearing from you is like having a birthday party. I love it!

    If you haven't already, I recommend that you visit april's blog. She wrote some really interesting comments about the current Bead & Button editorial regarding "Beader's Ethics." The post before that is good too - thought provoking reflections about 9-11.

    I'll get caught up on all of your blogs soon... great to look forward to them!

  14. My first visit to your site. I found you on Janet's site and thought I'd come see "Beadlust". Another biker gal huh? Saweet! I scrolled down through your pages and I must say your bead work is really over the top gorgeous. What a beautiful and true sense of total creative design. I am so very impressed. I used to be into beads, but not in this way. I did Indian Bead Weaving.

    You are so fortunate to live in Washington and to have BC in your backyard. I've only been a couple times in my life, but it imprinted very deeply on my brain. So gorgeous and pristine. There is envy in those words because I have a passion for mother earth and all she creates.

    Drop by should you want. I'm into company.

  15. Anonymous6:15 AM

    I think its so cool that you ride a bike. Over here in New England, we call bikers 'bikeys'. LOL! Have you gone to any bike rallies, yet??My Dad's a biker in Indiana, and he says the same thing about Harleys. He rides Hondas. In a state where there's no helmet law...Maybe someday, I'll follow in his footsteps...but with a helmet... :0

    Hope you had a Happy Birthday, Robin!

  16. Anonymous7:57 AM

    Just a wonderful post today! happy Birthday and many more!

  17. Hi again: Our Serendipitous connection yesterday got me thinking about my bead work, so I posted something you might want to go look at. I truly am proud of it. Hope you enjoy

  18. I'd love to see a discussion here on ethics....I too find it an extremely squishy subject and would love to hear what other folks think.

  19. oops, forgot to add...the article on ethics is in the june issue of B&B, not the current issue...

  20. Robin, I so enjoyed reading about your jounery. The pictures bring out the gypsy in me. I want to jump in the van with my puppy & beads and drive. Thank you for sharing so much us. Happy Birthday

  21. Welcome to Maryellen and "No Easy Beads" ~ Visiting your blog sites reminds me of how greatful I am for this blogging community and of how it feeds me in wonderful ways.

    Beadbabe ~ Thanks for visiting and for the correction about the ethics info being in the JUNE issue of B&B, not the current issue. Good catch!

    Debra & Lone Beader ~ as always I appreciate your company ;>)

  22. Oh Robin......What a wonderful entry! I am envious! Happy Birthday you Biker Babe you..........

  23. B is for Brilliant Post!
    Happy Birthday!!!

  24. Belated Happy Birthday!

    I'm glad to find out I'm not the only one out there pocketing chips of beaver cut trees. They are absolutely irristable.


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!