Monday, January 31, 2011

October Remembered...

This blog post is brought to you by Oreo, who says that since it is going to snow for two days once again, we should all find a comfy spot and curl up for a while. Works for me!  

Back in early October when Roger came to visit, he brought me gifts! One of them that I especially treasure is the collection of buttons to the right. I am always looking for old buttons for projects and this had a really awesome assortment. It's always good to have friends who are crafters/hobbyists and understand what simple joys surprises like this bring. Thanks Rog! 

This old book about aircraft was purchased for a quarter from a middle-aged man who lost his job in the jet engine building industry, and then lost his wife, and home. He was a very bitter individual, but I spent some time talking with him anyway, because he seemed to need it. I hope he found some peace afterward. It's interesting and filled with historical pictures, as you can see below.
 One thing we both agreed is that these are hard times for those of us who grew up in the era when a good job was easy to find in the factories and you didn't need a degree to get one. I do miss those days, when job security really meant something. 

On a happier note, I also got a few books from him for my grandson. Used books in good shape are always on my buying list. Having books around that are interesting and fun makes for lifelong readers, and I really think that the more you read when you are young, the better you learn to process information and use your imagination. Reading is a slow and cerebral way of exploring the world around you, and it's just plain entertaining too. 

The book and CD to the right  came from a thrift shop. Whenever I have a birthday, anniversary or other open holiday, and they ask me what I want to do, I tell them lets go thrifting! Like a big treasure hunt, and a little money goes a long way.

These paperbacks to the left were for me. I got them free out of a box at a flea market. The dealer said take them because he was going to throw them away when he got home. Sacrilege!  

Now these to the right I paid for, and it was a three-fer price. I wanted the Diablo books for #1 son Jason and just chose the Avalon one to get the discount. I've read some of that series. 

These next two sets of books to the left are basically for writing reference. I'm always looking for either background info or inspiration. Sure, I can go online to research, unless we are having a power outage or I'm somewhere I am disconnected from the internet. 

I have the Dragonlogy book, so the other two 'ologies' give me an entire set. Fun to page through when you need something new to mull over. 

Since I write fantasy, I've got a thing for surrounding myself with it. I'll likely reframe the unicorn pics someday. That is one of those dimensional foil pictures.

I did very well with frames at the thrift shops this fall. I love the little English blessing. 

More frames below, and that CD turned out to be some amazing Native American flute work. I like to listen to that when I write sometimes. 

A perfectly good shower curtain set, in the right colors for my upstairs bathroom, and all for under $4! That's why I LVE thrifting folks! 
 I love brass and candle holders, and these were especially nice ones. The flower fairy cup was a find. Haven't used the wire and glass trinket box for anything yet, but the little wooden chest now holds flash drives on my desk. 

I have one of those sand castles already, and couldn't resist getting another. I am also an owl collector, and this little glass guy sits on the windowsill near where I work, and watches me. We have at least three kinds of owls here that we've identified by their calls: Barred Owls, Screech Owls, and Great Horned Owls. We've heard all three at times this fall. 

The big plastic mug to the left I gave to my mother for soup and cocoa, because if she drops it, it won't chip. She loves it. I gave the Maine mug to my boating and Maine vacation loving neighbor as part of a Christmas basket. It is pretty! 

Aw c'mon—could you resist this Northern Exposure guy? Never used, and good hardwood too. He's happy in my kitchen now. 

It's a Tupperware deli keeper from way back in cherry shape, and mine is shot. I've packed a lot of cookies in mine over the years. 

I'll admit that I can't sew for beans, but I have friends who can. Someone will be getting these as gifts. I paid a whopping 25¢ each!

The sign below stopped me in my tracks at a flea market, and I just had to have it. Sometimes the truth hurts, at other times you hang a big old sign up and proudly admit your shortcomings to the world. LOL

Yeah, that's yarn. Oh c'mon, this is ME we're talking about! You had to know I'd find some yarn to bring home. Actually I had one skein of some very nice designer homespun yarn in my cart in a thrift shop, and walked away to look at something. I came back, and someone had swiped it. I bought these bags instead. The light green scarf I posted about a while back got made from this batch.

I have not opened or used this black cotton yarn yet, but that was a find. Kind of an unusual color in cotton, it was likely catalog ordered. 

No, that's not made from the cotton, but some leftover acrylic. That's my hexing hat, the one you see in my pictures here and on Facebook. Something I just threw together for myself and took about 4 nights to finish. A good way to display my fancy pins too. I have NO idea what the smudges on it are in this picture, but they're not there now. 

One of my prize possessions, a Kirk's Folly pin. I love their line of fantasy costume jewelry. One of the few items I will splurge on and pay full price for, but not too often! They are not inexpensive. I have a thing for dragons you know...

This flying unicorn pin is also a fave. Looks really great on the hat. I have a couple others, as well as less expensive pieces I really love. I will be wearing the hat and different pins to Pulp Ark come May. 

Nothing fancy about these, just some new bottle cozies in different sizes. I use the one on the left almost every day. They help use up scrap/stash yarn and do a wonderful job of keeping your hands dry and wet rings off the furniture. Keeps the drink cold much longer too. And you always know which bottle is yours. One of my first fall projects.

This is all cotton yarn and started life with the idea of being wash cloth. I found it too big, stiff, and rough, so now it is for scrubbing. Boy do these colors fade in the wash though! Too bad, I loved that ombre purple mix.

This one is also cotton, a striping yarn. It was a bit better as a wash cloth, though it didn't hold enough shower gel. It also gets used for scrubbing, and would make an excellent dishcloth.

We're having a tough winter up here, and I hear people moaning about cabin fever. It is very hard when you need to be somewhere like work, and you have to deal with this kind of weather. Or you need your driveway cleared for the umpteenth time and it's either pay through the nose to have it plowed, or break your back shoveling. It's often cold and miserable out, and the walking get treacherous too. Even though my work is all from home, I sympathize folks, I really do, because I have to get out now and then myself. The weather has not been conducive to unnecessary trips, so most of my days out have been grocery shopping and errands, or appointments, with very little fun involved. But I never get those winter blues, because I keep busy. If you have hobbies and projects to do in those spare moments that we often fill with restlessness and dark thoughts, the winter will be over before you know it, AND you'll have something to show for it too.

Did you write? January 31,2011

Did you write? January 31,2011
Wow, Another month has passed. I am doing horrible on keeping my New Year's resolution of not bragging about not keeping my New Year's resolution. I mean it is the toughest one I have ever made... Oops, I just broke it again.....

This note is a prompt to get people to write regularly. Many of us don't need it, but some have to have an excuse to face the blank screen and fill it with words. Knowing this note is coming and that you really should report SOMETHING, you decide it is best to report that you wrote so you open some work and wiggle your fingers over the keyboard.

How much you write is unimportant. One word or a couple thousand is equal. It is the habit of facing a project each week that is important. A little each week adds up to a lot of writing over the year. Also, your project might be to edit to less words so your word count might go backwards.
You don't even have to work on just one project. Multiple pieces is as good as one.

What is writing is also not important. Each week I list possible selections as what can be writing. I could count a lot more than I personally do, but I have my own personal rules as to what is writing. You may choose a different set of rules. It is strictly up to you.
Any new writing is of course, writing. Editing, is also writing, even if your word count goes backwards. editing someone else's work also is writing. Critiquing, poetry, article writing, blogging, writing assignments, technical writing, world and character creation, are all writing. Even E-mails can be writing if they are wordy and pertain to story or writing. If you have to ask as to what is writing, the answer is yes.

As for me, I have attacked my story in progress, trying to cut it down to size. At one point, I removed nearly 800 words from it by eliminating a scene, placing the meeting later. I then realized that I left out a key piece of information, so I added two hundred words back in to handle it. I nibbled at other scenes, clipping and correcting as I went. In all, I removed 667 words. The problem is that I need to remove nearly 7 thousand words to get where I need to be. This shrinking editing was supposed to be done back in November!!!
I am giving some thought on the third story in the series and it is not going to be as easy as I hoped. These three stories set up the universe the rest of my hundreds of short stories will happen in.

On the story idea front, I really shrunk the size of the story presentations. they are within synopsis range for the most part. I got a little carried away. since they were small, I was able to belt them out a whole lot faster. I ended up posting 33 story ideas this month, with 37 pages of text, and 22,027 words of pure drivel. It is fun to write. What is more, I start out the year two ideas ahead!! that is always good. It allow for a little wiggle room for a really bad month. I have not had any where I never caught up, but one never knows.

On the woodworking front, not a lot happened. I was given a bunch of tools and spent much of the weekend sorting through them. I got a good start on my toy cannon I am making. I have to locate the book and see how it was built. It would be better than building it by guess and by golly.

As to the question of the week,
I can honestly say,



Sunday, January 30, 2011

Week 577 Woodworking

year 11, Week 03, Day One (week 577) (January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.) 01-29-11 Saturday

46 degrees at dawn, 60 degrees when I finally got outside, and a high of 70. We had blue skies and a very light breeze just strong enough to blow dust into my face. Tomorrow morning will be in the low 50s so we will have the start of a warming trend in the coldest winter on record. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department Of Tourism.

A friend is giving me some tools he can no longer use. I got them to mom's house but have not had time to lay them out to see what I have. That is a project for tomorrow. I will be getting more. Also, he has a little metal working lathe and I am planning to buy it from him.

I painted on the fairy I had finished. I need to do touch ups, but she looks good. I have to either find wings I had my dad make for me, or make new ones on the scroll saw.

Did some yard sailing today. A condominium has a big sale each year. I picked up two cast iron pans at a dollar each. A coffee grinder for a dollar, two pillows at a dollar each, and some little toy soldier parade ornaments for fifty cents.

Toy soldier parade.

Opened basket bag.

folded basket bag.

coffee grinder and fry pans

I talked to a dear friend most of the morning on the cell phone. It was nice, though no wood working could be done.

I started by sanding on my cannon. I sanded it backwards for a bit, then turned it back around and sanded it more that way. It is nicer now.
I sanded on the boards for the sides and found some problems. I then chose a piece of wood that has a wonderful knot in it that will look great, but I removed a bark inclusion and decided it had better be filled. I might decide to use this for something else. Will see how the filler looks when done.
I figured out a useful trick when dealing with thick materials in tubes such as filler. I work the material away from the end, then fold the end over. I then place the piece between the jaws of a vice or between the jaws of a clamp and apply pressure. The material will squeeze out of the tube. apply more pressure and it will come out fast, remove the pressure and the flow will stop. this sure beats trying to use your hands to try to squeeze the stuff out.

I needed to correct the dress vases I have. I figured out that the way I have the "cloth" of the straps were formed to fit the body, was not quite right. I used several different grinders and sanders to shape them a bit better and get rid of a couple other minor problems. They are now ready for some serious sanding.

It was a nice day today, even if I did not accomplish much. Tomorrow I will work on the cannon. I will develop the carriage for it farther. I have a fairy and a face vase to carve on. If I do any wood turning, it should be on making mushrooms for my fairy scenes. I will pick through the tools I got to assess what I have and check out the condition.

I will see what I actually do tomorrow.

year 11, Week 03, Day two (week 577) (January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.) 01-30-11 Sunday

57 degrees early morning, 60 when I got out to work, 71 during the day. super high feather and streaks on a bright blue sky. Puffs formed over the Everglades and started crowding toward the ocean in late afternoon. If this weather is better than what you have, come for a visit. Our hotels have plenty 0f room. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department Of Tourism.

The beast of the backyard has acted exactly like a cat. It appears as if Scarface has adopted Mom. He is hanging around quite a bit and is out there every morning to be fed, and is hanging around a whole lot longer.

My first project was to sort through the tools my friend gave me. The power tools are well used and may need some maintenance. One drill is geared slow and really powerful. The chuck appears to be rusted in place, but the motor runs.

Gifted Motors.

Among the rest of the tools, someone made a hatchet out of diamond plate and a pipe. The blade was stuck in a slot in the pipe, the pipe was crimped to the blade and welded. Cute. I sharpened another hatchet and used that to split a piece of log that had strong checks in it.

two hatchets upper left. Home made hatchet facing right

There were a bunch of files. They need to be cleaned up. My brother has some stuff that will do that. He will use it on a four jaw chuck, one where each jaw works separately. He says he will get that working nicely and give it back to me so I can do off center turning.

files and rasps before being cleaned.

There were other tools I went through, some got cleaned up lightly, others just resorted and put away.

That took the entire morning. I then used the ax to split a piece of weathered log that had lots of checks in it. The checks were actually held strong. I had wanted to be able to split some of the wood I have. I removed the checked part of the wood and had a nice piece. I split it to half the length and mounted it in the lathe. It fought me tooth and nail as I tried to make a mushroom out of it. It was a hard wood, possibly oak, but I am not sure. The spur did not want to dig into the wood properly. I had to reset it, pounding the spur into it with a hammer, several times. I ended up flipping it around and making a tenon on the rough side. I then rounded it and made it into a mushroom. I worked my tools into the space beside the chuck to start the shaping and hollowing that will be needed when I get serious about the underside.

Mushroom cap

I took my original pieces of cut wood for the sides of my cannon and sanded on them. A buffer-grinder I received had a course sand paper on it so I used that to really remove some problems and clean up all the sides and edges. I then took it to the disk sander with medium (100 grit) sand paper and cleaned up the edges. Of course, I tipped the board wrong and added a little curved divot in it. It was such divots was one reason why I used the buffer sander in the first place. I now realize how they got into the wood in the first place.
I need to work with these pieces more to get them to where I want them. Loads of sanding with finer and finer grits.
I need to locate the book with the plans for the cannon so I can see how it is supposed to be constructed. I can do it just about anyway so I might as well learn to do it right.

I had a gift card so I went to Woodcrafts and picked up some wood. I picked up two blocks of basswood. I considered one big block and decided two small ones would serve me better. It was about the same price.
I also got two sheets of thin plywood. I need to make wings for my fairies, unless I can find the ones Dad made for me years ago. I sm positive I have another set to go, but think I have to dismantle the shed again to get to them. I will trace the wings on one of my other fairies, using them as the basic pattern. I, or my brother, will scroll them out. Without wings, my fairies are just women in green outfits.

Next week, I have a fairy to carve on, mushrooms to make, wings to make, a face vase to carve. I also may have some more tools to sort through. I will make an offer on a mini lathe for metal working. It is a real nice machine. My friend cannot use it so my getting it will guarantee that it will be used.

mini lathe
I will also be going down to Dania to check on my work that is on display. I will drop off some dress vases I have made to add to the display.

I will see what I actually do next week.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A New Pro Se Magazine Is Out!

Pro Se Presents Fantasy and Fear #3

Hey ladies and gents, Pro Se presents Fantasy & Fear #3. Yep it's our third title in this series, a magazine jam packed with action filled stories of speculative fiction by some extremely talented people. These are good old fashioned action and adventure tales full of chills, thrills, and deeds both sinister and heroic, stuff that should be near and dear to any lover of a good yarn with a fantastic or horror twist. Some very meaty stories in here, including one by Your's Truly and our other author-in-residence, Mr. Lee Houston Jr. Click on the Lulu link at the right hand side of this blog's homepage and it will zap you through cyberspace until you land directly on Lulu. Type 'Pro Se' in the search box and it will take you to our personal storefront. We have both lovely glossy-covered card stock-bound paper magazines with plenty of interior black and white illustrations, as well as similarly configured E-copies available. Pick up yours today, and let me know what you think, OK? And thank you SO MUCH for supporting independent publishing and the people who write what you want to read rather than what some ad exec decides will sell best.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Things That Make Me Smile!

This blog post is brought to you by Mischief and Merlin, my 'thrifted' cats. They would like to remind you that if winter weather makes you cross, you need an indoor hobby or three.

They are a photogenic pair, aren't they? Mommy loves you too guys! ♥♥

A recent thrifting adventure netted me this nice little purse. AND it was 50% off the tagged price, so I got it for a whopping $1.50. Perfect for those 'mixer' events we are supposed to be attending at the writer's conference in May.

Got this little guy the same day. Yes he is a Ty, and it says 2008 on his ribbon which the bow tie covers up. He is currently presiding over part of the office.

This is a poor picture because it was taken in a rush on a black plush blanket, right before it went out the door with its new owner. It is a healing amulet I put together from beads and charms. Each strand has some significance to the life-altering situation the person I created it for can relate too. It's made to be hung, or held. Very nice to have nearby so that it can be viewed and played with. Like any prayer or meditation beads, you can go over it and associate the different strands and their components with feelings and emotions, thoughts and deeds. It sparkles and jangles nicely too. I have made several of these, and they are fun to do, and always appreciated.

The 24th of January is my friend and neighbor Shelly's birthday. I always look for some special things to make her smile. Cold weather birthdays need to be cheery, and this year we are having a really cold & snowy, old fashioned New England winter. The theme of the gifts this year was: Have A Magical Birthday.

This is the front of the envelope of the Brian Froud card I gave her.
The back of the envelope, and I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of the actual card! I got a metal tin of them while out thrifting in 2009. I love Brian Froud fairies because they aren't all cute and sweet.

I made Shelly a fairy calling charm. It has all sorts of sparkly things that fairies should love, and a big bell to call them. The bell is removable so that if it gets annoying or you are overrun with fairies, it can be silenced. She has a greenhouse window in her kitchen that has houseplants in it, and I gave her some stick on hooks to hang it there, so the fairies have their own winter resort.

We don't have to grow up if we don't want to!
Once hung these charms and amulets tend to clump together, but I spread them out for the pictures so you can see everything.

This is Blinkin, and he is an owl that will bring wisdom and order to her household (we all need that) and keep those fairies in line. Took me 4 nights of watching TV with the family while putting him together, between the crochet work and the trimming. He can sit in the palm of your hand and his body is about softball size. I've made several of these owls, and my own little pal Bubo, sits on the window next to me, staring over my left shoulder as he holds down my flowerpot of Sharpie markers.

It had been a while since I made one, and couldn't find my notes, so I forgot how to do the wings and tail. I had to fudge it and got the tail too long. It's OK, Blinkin didn't seem to mind. Neither did Shelly, and she collects owls. The appendages were crocheted in the same tan worsted weight yarn as his headpiece, and I did them all right on the body. Then I used a smaller hook and fur yarn to 'feather' them. A yarn needle and patience allowed me to tease out the fibers so that he looks fluffy. The beak and feet are chenille stems folded and glued in place like the eyes. I used Fabric-Tac and unfortunately it is getting a bit thick and so it shows. If I had thought of it at the time, a touch of brown Sharpie might have hid it better. I really like Fabric-Tac, it holds very well.

I just had to show you Blinkin's butt and little feets. They are just too cute! The beak is half an orange chenille stem, the feet are each half a yellow one. you mainly want to get the shape you're after, and have about a 1/4" or so 'post' to tuck into a hole you bore between the stitches into the fiberfill. I stuff that filling in very tight so it doesn't shift or pack down later. The body is worked in single crochet from the base upwards, initially making a circle that stops at a certain size and then continuing without increases to the top, which should be at least the same height as the diameter of the base. Once it's stuffed, the top gets sewn shut from side to side, and you stitch to shape the 'ears'. If you want to use the doll/animal eyes that come in parts, you have to add them before you stuff or or sew shut. Not hard at all if you know how to crochet.

I have a set of these resin gnomes on one of the bookcases in the office, and was glad to find the little discount store that sells them still had some in stock. I think they are darling, and sent them over to Shelly to live in her garden window. They are about 5-6" tall.

Even the backs are very detailed. Can you believe I only paid $1.99 each? I love that hand-carved look. Reminds me of Roger's work.

Just a little tea light or incense burner, but it is a lighthouse. Shelly and her husband Bob have a boat for ocean fishing, and they love all things nautical and coastal. I told her that if she burns a candle in it, and shuts off the lights at night, the fairies and gnomes will come out of hiding to sing and dance. I didn't get a picture of it, but I gave her a package of apple pie scented tea lights too. The apple cinnamon scent of the package was heady...
As you can guess, I love putting presents together for people. I didn't get to see Shelly open these things, but #1 son Jason walked the bag across the road and over to her house. It was too cold and icy for me today, my back has been only so-so these last few days. We've had plenty of snow lately and today's highs were in the upper teens. Brrr!!!! I put it all wrapped in a purple shiny gift bag (her favorite color) with a note in the card about what everything was for. Shelly opened it all while we were on the phone, and we talked for over an hour. So it was nice for both of us. They have been wonderful neighbors and good friends.

While I was fishing for gift bags, tissue paper, and birthday wrap today, I realized it was time to put this lovely miss away for another year. My good friend Roxanne made this needle felted angel, and I love it dearly! She says she won a blue ribbon at a local fair for it, and I don't doubt it. That she gave it to me makes me very proud. One of my most treasured decorations.

If my house wasn't so dusty, I'd leave her out year round, but that wool roving attracts dust like a magnet. I am looking for a case or dome big enough to hold her without squeezing her out of shape. This gal is big, I think over a foot tall. Look at those sweet little curls!

I'm lucky to have some very talented and generous people in my life. When I see angels, I think of them. So be one today, and go tell someone you treasure what they mean to you. Life is too short not to say it right now.