Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Pow - Wow and the Tribe of Wannaknow

The work of Naomi Bebo worn by her 2 year old daughter

 Last year at Poppyfield Bead Company,  in the weeks before the Gathering of Nations Pow-Wow, I could feel the energy building.  I had Native American customers from all across the country showing up in a state of "seed bead emergency" to finish up or repair their garments or their children's.  I don't know how people from as far afield as New York, Idaho and Oklahoma found me.  But they did and I was excited that I was pulled into this great event in my role as bead supplier.  This year I was hoping to get the word out about the shop in the weeks prior to the event.  But, God laughed at my plans.  With the shop closed for restoration after our car crash, I was relegated to absolute outsider, with nothing to offer.  

This year, I noticed that I could not feel that same energy.  I knew that it was happening, right here in Albuquerque. But without my shop in action, I saw that my thread of connection to The People, was absent. My mom and I ventured out to the Pit, as respectful and ignorant spectators.  It is a role I am learning to accept, even as it can feel wholly uncomfortable. 

Astonishing Regalia

As we approached the Pit, the traffic increased, and parking lots packed with cars had their "LOT FULL" signs standing.  Crowds of people on foot,  were waiting for the light at corners, or crossing.  Some were dressed in full regalia.  As I stood beside them, I instantly felt excited and connected.  Their intricate seed bead covered garments, medallions, and hair decorations spoke to me.  

Women of Service representing the
 US military stand for the Buckskin Dance

I was happy, even as we had to wait in line for entrance (as the Pit was full to capacity).  Families sat on the grass playing with children. Young and elders milled about in absolutely astonishing regalia. The long line we were on was comprised of patient, calm people.  We entered into a very crowded arena, just in time to stand for the Buckskin Dance of Elders; a dance by women over 55 years old to honor mothers and grandmothers.  Perfect and meaningful for my mother and me.   We only had a short time to spend.  We strolled through the market and saw absolutely fabulous beadwork.  But I must say, the most stunning was the beadwork worn by the dancers.  I felt a tremendous sense of reward that I am in some way connected to such amazing art and rich culture.  I have a renewed sense of purpose in Poppyfield Bead Company.  

Farmington Lad

Selling seed beads in New Mexico these past 2 years I've had an opportunity and need to interact with Native bead artists.  At the same time, I know that I know relatively nothing about these people surrounding me.   My ignorance is right up in my face and I feel an imperative to educate myself.  I have started this exciting and humbling journey through books, Native narratives, museums, and Native radio shows.  I will keep striving to seek, listen, and learn.   I am not a Wannabe (I have my own culture - and we actually have tribes too.)  I am a Wannaknow.  That is my second tribe.  

Restoration Update

We are still boarded up.  The first of our 4 deliveries has arrived: the security gates. We are still awaiting windows, window frames, and carpet.  Although Wendy, June, and I are finding much to keep us busy, none of it impacts the re-open date.  I just don't's all out of my hands.  So I am practicing the spiritual gift of "letting go".  But, being human and of a type not prone to letting go, this practice has its limits.  So, June and Wendy keep me sane. I will keep you posted as new information becomes available.  Again, if you are in dire straights due to business or ceremonial need for beads, please get in touch with me.  Thanks for hanging in with us...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Road Trip

Greetings beady friends and thanks for checking in.  We've been diligently working on the bead tubes.  It is a somewhat mundane and tedious task.  And we kinda like that:  Rhythm, repetition, and a vague sense of progress. We are "seed-beaders" after all.  Plus, I think it has a healing effect after all the tumult.  

Of course, we like a little excitement too. Hence....the ROAD TRIP.  As I mentioned in the last post, we decided to take a trip to our seed bead supplier.  

Lunch on the Road

Before we left on our trip, I said a little prayer that we arrive home safely and still on good terms with each other, and I am pleased to say that my prayer was answered.  We almost didn't make it,  because the night before the trip both my headlights went out.  But, in my determination, I rented a car and we were off.  Coming home, we had to deal with road closures due to high winds and low visibility.  But that forced us onto ever more remote and beautiful routes.  I noticed the worse our situation got, the calmer and more polite we all became.  That immediate acceptance was new stuff for me, and something I hope to cultivate more within myself.   

Winding Through Natural Beauty

Our trip took us into the heart of what is still called "Indian Country" out here in the American Southwest.  I marveled at the jaw-dropping scenery as we wound our way on 2-lane twisting roads through various Pueblos, Apache lands, and the Navajo Nation of the Dine.  As a native New Yorker* living in New Mexico for 18 years,  it still startles me to find vast stretches of pristine land between communities.  In contrast, the East Coast is crowded with towns that blend into each other and I still expect that. 
Taking out our beads in Denny's
Sometimes you just have to  

Only bead lovers could spend 17 hours in a car for 5 hours of bead shopping and think "this is awesome".  We did stop and all get matching tattoos of a heart with "Miyuki" inside.  So that took a little extra time.  NO, we didn't.  What we did do, was work as a team and review every bead color offered by our supplier.   We have 75 NEW colors chosen, and we brought home a tube of each (see pic above).   We will be introducing them in color palettes when we re-open.  We are excited and proud that we will have the most current selection possible. 

Solange and Julia

Friday, we enjoyed a brief visit from Solange, who is back in town for a short time.  It was great fun catching up with her. Many of you ask about her and what she's been up to.  Solange spent some months traveling in Chile with family.  Now, she is back living in her hometown in North Carolina. She says hello to all her Poppyfield friends.
When will we re-open???

Everything needed to re-open has been gates, carpet, windows, window frames.  So, now it is out of our hands.  As these items arrive, the physical restoration of the building can begin.  Again, I ask you for patience and please hang in with us through this very strange time.  We are still hoping to re-open in 2 weeks.  But, we all know how that goes.  When we have firmer dates, we will let you know.  

Until then...


*For clarity:   people born in New York refer to ourselves as native New Yorkers -  this does not imply membership in a Native American Tribe.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Restoration Day #5

Greetings beady friends, and thanks for checking in.  June, Wendy, and I spent the majority of  Tuesday through Thursday cleaning the 5 seed bead cases.  As we go along, we are are cleaning, relabeling where needed, and culling some unpopular or duplicate beads colors.  Our goal is to move all the "orphan beads" or "new beads tubes" into their rightful places. We are also planning to update our colors.  On Monday the 3 of us are making an overnight road trip to our seed bead supplier to check out the latest colors, and beef-up our selection.  We know, thanks to Margo's years of accumulating beads,  we've had a great seed bead selection all along. But we think we can make it even more current, and so we head West, to an undisclosed location.   

I still feel overwhelmed by the work ahead of me for the insurance claim. I have got to document all the damage, and provide "supporting evidence" which means get quotes or provide receipts for replacement costs.  I have to find out what is available and what I will need to substitute with a different item.  This particularly refers to our counters and displays - which were custom refurbished for me, and so are not available to purchase.   
It was seeming like a huge unscalable mountain, until yesterday. I woke up on Friday and just felt like diving in.  I spent the day making measurements of my furniture, and taking photos of everything that is damaged. A lot of it is pitting from glass flying at high speeds.  That is not the easiest thing to photograph.  I got myself a notebook, a binder, tape measure, camera and an external storage drive for all my documenting. I brought home my huge folder of receipts.  So after writing this post, I'll be documenting, documenting, documenting.  Now you know....I'd rather be beading.  

Documenting Damaged Stuff

We are getting a sense of the timeline for re-opening.  We need new glass windows, new metal window frames, dry wall repair, painting, and new carpet throughout.  The painting is last, and is minor.  But the window frames must go in before the windows, and the windows must go in before the carpet. Laying the carpet is a big deal, because EVERYTHING must be moved - including the bead cases full of beads.  We plan to open as soon as the carpet is laid.  We are anticipating that we will be closed for 3 more weeks.  As we get firmer dates I will let you know.  

I am sorry for your frustration while we area closed.   I realize for some customers it is an inconvenience.  But for other customers the situation is more dire.  If you are in need of beads for ceremonial or business purposes please contact me by email at and I will try to help you get what you need.  

Saying Goodbye to Jasmine

In the midst of all this mess, I had to say goodbye to our dear cat who passed on Thursday night.  It is the first time I have lost a pet and she was very dear to me and my family.   I am trying to stay upbeat.  June and Wendy have a great "can do" attitude and that really helps me.  I know intellectually that everything is fine, and will be fine.  But I do not like the way this feels.    I think the opportunity to go pick more colors will fire us up  and  remind us how wonderful it will all be when we re-open.  That is some energy we can really use.  

Some of the things you can look forward to when we re-open are: 

Easy to read "bead maps" for customer use
New bead colors
Delicas in size 15's
New customer loyalty/discount plan
Price breaks for large quantity purchases

Til then....

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Restoration Day #1

Beads Are Looking Good

Yesterday was the first day I could actually feel our recovery.  The clean up and restoration actually begun within hours of the crash.  But, it was hard to feel progress as I was still absorbing the destruction.  As soon as the car was towed out of the store, the clean-up crew got underway.  They started to pop out the remaining shards of glass and to saw the twisted metal into removable pieces.  By nightfall, the big debris was hauled away and we were left to survey the space.   All we could say was WOW!  It is a weird mix of total destruction and pulverization next to beautiful well preserved inventory.  

Last Friday, still stumbling around in shock, I made my way to Lieber's Luggage just down the road on Menaul. They had a van crash into their store in January.  Leslee the owner was extremely nice, and took the time to talk to me about how they have been handling repairs, restoration, insurance companies, and general coping.  The insurance piece is confounding.  I called their adjuster for some advice.  It turns out that in the grand scheme of insurance claims mine is not really a big deal.  The gentleman spent 1/2 hour answering my questions and explaining how it all works. It really is another language and I am naive about it. 

Yesterday, was the first workday that the insurance companies have been in gear and that's when everything started happening. Our building repairs have been assessed by my landlord's insurance agency and we all agree about what needs to happen next.  A big factor for re-opening is that the carpet needs to removed. Not only is it burned in the front of the store, but it contains glass slivers throughout the store, all the way to the back wall and near the bathroom.  It can never be cleaned to safety so it will be replaced.  This is apparently the standard for restoration.  We are hoping to pick our new carpet today. We wanted a Poppy pattern, but my landlords (nice as they are) said "no".  We understand and will likely pick a brown mix again.  When the carpet is ready to lay, everything will need to be moved. GULP!

Another big job is cleaning the tubes and cases.  Apparently, I have the right to have my insurance company buy all the inventory affected by glass.  It would mean replacing all the beads and relabeling the tubes.    We have 10,800 tubes of beads in just the standing cases alone. So re-tubing and relabeling would keep us busy and closed for a long time. Instead we will be removing the tubes and cleaning them off and cleaning the cases to make everything glass free and safe to handle.  In the end, that is the most efficient use of our time.  I am sure our insurance company will be pleased that they do not have to buy over 10,000 tubes of seed beads.  As you can see from the photo, we've already begun the process. While we are cleaning we are re-organizing the beads.  We finally get to integrate all those gorgeous new permanent and duracoat galvanized beads into their rightful places with the colors of their kind.  Hybrids, new colors, and "orphans" are being moved too.  We get excited at the thought of it!!   We plan to  have new "maps" for customer use so you can easily locate the bead tube you want.  So you can bet, in some ways, we will be a new and improved Poppyfield - even though we were pretty new (and pretty great) before all this.  

A lot of our furniture was damaged, including the counter display set up. So we will be documenting with photos and getting price quotes for replacements. We don't mind opening without furniture or windows.   We are sure you won't mind bearing with us as we get back in gear.  I know from our first time around...GET THE BEADERS THEIR BEADS, and everything will be just fine.  So that's our plan. ASAP.  

Until then...

Saturday, April 6, 2013



On Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 2:11 PM a car came crashing through the front of our store. It is a miracle that no one was hurt, and we are so grateful.  One of our customers was coming to shop. It seems she pressed the accelerator instead of the brake and thinking she was on the brake, pressed the pedal to the floor to try to stop.  This brought the car through the front of the store and even popped out our side windows.

The force of the crash pulverized the front and side displays with their jewelry and displays and sent glass throughout the store, as far as the back wall and bathroom.  The security gates and window frames (now twisted metal) were forced into the store and crashed into everything in their path, including furniture and our counters.


June and Wendy my wonderful sales assistants were both there - Wendy was working, and June was visiting on a day off.  They were 10 feet from where the car stopped, and in the path of all the glass and metal, and yet neither suffered a scratch.  At the time of the crash, I was supposed to meet one of our consignment bead artists.  We were to be collecting her items from the display. Her beadwork, and the display itself are  not visible in the picture because they were thrown forward in the crash.  We were to be standing where the green twist of metal is.  For some strange reason, (and very uncharacteristically) I completely missed the appointment. It seems I had never entered it into my calendar.  She left, and right after that the car crashed through the front of the store sending everything in its path careening forward or smashing into bits.  The driver is also fine as is her dog who was an "unrestrained passenger".  The fire department extricated her from her debris covered car.  The car was towed away, and even it seem relatively unscathed. It is all so hard to explain.


Like the poppies that inspire our name, we will bloom again.  Of this we have no doubt.  We are so sorry that we have to close temporarily.  But the store is just not safe.  We have removed the major debris and secured the store, and we are doing our best to get up and running as soon as possible.  I know some of you have orders that you need to complete for your customers.  I will work hard to figure out a way to help you.  We will know more early next week and I promise to keep you all posted through this site, emails, and Facebook and Twitter.  I hate to inconvenience you, believe me.  


During the last 10 years I have learned that all hard times come with gifts, if we are open to receiving them. I am determined to see this as another "bump in the road" and allow myself to experience the good that all hard times bring.  Already, I have been blessed with the support, loyalty, and wonderful energy of my 2 sales assistants, June and Wendy who have buttressed me through that past 3 days.  My landlords, Ed and Paula, are kind and supportive, and their care for my well-being has really helped as well.  And, you my dear customers, have sent your concern and well wishes through Facebook and emails.  You have no idea how much your kind words mean to all of us in the Poppyfield family


1. Please don't come to the store while we are closed.  It isn't safe for you inside, and we can't sell to you right now (even though we want to).
2. Like our page on Facebook - Poppyfield Bead Company (you will see the red flower logo).  As soon as we can sell to you, in any form, we will let you know on Facebook, as well as well as twitter and email.  You can follow me on on twitter at PoppyfieldBeads.
3.  Share our news with your friends. Keep us in your thoughts. Send us good vibes.  Please please hang in with us.

Remember - all beautiful flowers weather storms, and we will too.