Friday, December 23, 2011

Hand-worked outfit for 18" doll

The doll is Gotz "Precious Days" Alicia.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The King and Queen Game

This exciting novel, written (rough draft only) in November 2010 during National Novel Writing Month and edited throughout at least half of 2011, is now available online for your reading pleasure.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Real or staged mess?

Checking one of my email accounts today, I saw a link to this video. I've had a few children of my own, and have cleaned up some spectacular disasters in my time, so I decided to "waste" several minutes watching the film.

Just for clarification, the story behind the movie is as follows. A young mother, Mary Napoli of some city in Michigan, emerged from the bathroom the other day, having been absent from her two toddlers' immediate presence for no more than 5 minutes (she had not been feeling well) to discover the little boys, aged 1 and 3, happily playing in 5 lb. of flour they had just finishing dumping all over the living room. She filmed the scene of the crime and then posted it on YouTube.

It was intriguing  how many people commenting on this video insisted that there was NO way two children as young as this could make this kind of a mess on their own. I'd say the overwhelming majority used the words "fake" or "staged."

A second and slightly smaller contingent, allowing grudgingly that kids could be pretty awful sometimes, chose to let fly at the mother's parenting skills for having failed to prevent them from doing so.

An even smaller group criticised her for not swearing at and then punishing the kids before (or instead of) filming them as they finished gleefully distributing the flour around the room and proceeded to wallow in it. To them, this either proved that the movie was staged (what real-life mother would NOT swear at her children and whale the tar out of them, faced with such an appalling mess?) or gave incriminating evidence that she was an ineffectual parent (see paragraph above.)

Those who took a more moderate view, saying things such as, "I believe it; I can remember my own mother acting exactly like this," or "You wanna hear my story of what MY kids did one day??" were the smallest group of all. My guess is that they could easily be counted on the fingers of one hand. Or, possibly, two. And that probably includes the comments I posted myself.

Summing it up, the conclusion of the majority seems to be that, obviously, the video is a fake; the mother is a publicity-seeking idiot who trashed her own living room and made her
innocent toddlers look like the culprits, in order to get worldwide attention. As one person observed, "i guess these days people will use their kids for almost anything to receive attention or their 15 seconds of fame. Pathatic." (sic)

(The above quote is taken directly from the Yahoo! page. Just for the record: the following "quotes" are not cut and pasted verbatim, but have been combined from a good many comments in the same vein. If you want to read the actual comments, you're welcome to visit the YouTube page: or the Yahoo! page:

The "bad parenting" comments were particularly revealing. According to her admiring public, the occurrence of such a disaster indicates this mom was either too permissive with her kids ("My dad would have beat me black and blue if I'd tried a stunt like this!"--hopefully a severe or perhaps a humorous exaggeration) or criminally negligent ("She's a terrible mother if she left them alone long enough for them to make this kind of a mess!"--translation: "good" moms never use the bathroom during their children's waking hours, even when ill, unless they chain the kids to their high chairs first.) However, if a poll were taken, it would show that most people simply dismiss this video as having been staged by the mother.

Well...whether or not this was "staged"--and I will admit, it could have been staged--I have no problem believing such a thing could also, in fact, actually happen. I've known enough kids over the years to have heard some hair-raisingly similar stories.

To those who said, "Obviously staged--she sounds so phony, just repeating the same phrase in a monotone over and over"--well, she sounds pretty realistic to me. She's not a bad mother, or even a bad actor. To me, she sounds like a woman in shock.  Not every woman screams, yells and becomes violent when faced with the kind of mess the nicest kids can get into in those few minutes when your back is turned. Sometimes when it's really horrible you just get really, really quiet......
The flour on the walls and pictures could have drifted there from the way the kids were tossing that bag around. Comments stated that, among other things, there was no way there could have been flour on the picture frames and the molding over the door, from children that small. Here's another criticism: "The flour is so uniformly spread around the room--obviously the mom herself did it just for the video." (In which case the mother is not just publicity-hungry--she's crazy. Have you ever tried to clean up flour that has been rubbed into upholstery?) Followed by, "Hey! Look! She missed the back of the rocking chair! HA!" I can imagine these kids were enchanted by the effect they were getting, and scattered it as far as possible. It's what I--er, I mean, lots of kids--would have done, at that age. 
And no, maybe the kids didn't realise right away what big trouble they were in. ("Kids know when they've been bad, and freak out when Mom catches them at it; these kids are perfectly calm.") However, if you listen, you can hear it beginning to register..."What's the matter, Mommy?...What's the matter?..." They were having LOTS of fun before she walked in, but they are beginning to pick up from her reaction that All Is Not Well. Doesn't anyone remember what it was like, being a kid, doing something awful and not realising till it's, well, just a l-i-t-t-l-e bit too late that you have really pulled a bad one?
Others said it was unlikely that any adult would simply walk around filming the mess before punishing the kids and getting it all cleaned up as fast as possible. Try this scenario instead: Mom opened the door, took a few steps, saw what was going on, and realised she had a decision to make:
a) She could scream, yell, confine the kids behind a baby gate in the bedroom or somewhere (maybe at a neighbour's house would be better, now that I think of it―or, let’s see, how far away does Grandma live, and would she keep the little darlings overnight?) and clean everything up, and then have people say to her, "There's no way it could have been that bad. My, you do make up some amazing stories!" All she would have is the memory of that day.
b) Or, being a young mother of the 21st century with access to the latest technology, she could put her emotions on hold for a minute or two longer (hey, the bag is almost empty, the damage has been done...) and then calmly fetch her camcorder or her cell phone, retrace her steps to the bathroom door, push the button and start walking. Showing the world just what SHE saw at that first moment. Carefully going around the whole room filming, leaving out no detail--not the flour splashed on the lampshade, not the sprinkles on the framed pictures, not the kids joyfully making patterns in the flour with their hands or emptying the last of the bag over their heads. I'll bet she wasn't even aware that she was moaning "Oh. My gosh. Oh, my gosh..." over and over again. But somewhere deep inside all that shock, she still had a sense of humour. Already she was laying plans for what she would do AFTER she filmed it all (and then screamed, yelled, confined the kids outside the disaster area--I suggest that depending on her assessment of the level of their accountability, there might also be some disciplinary procedures at this point-- and, finally, cleaned everything up.)
"First I'll show it to Daddy when he gets home. Then, I'll email it to Grandma. After that, I'll post it for everyone else I know on Facebook. And then, fifteen or twenty years from now--the kids probably won't even remember this day!--I'll get it out and share it at their graduations...wait, how about their weddings?"
I wish she lived in my neighbourhood. I'd like to get to know her as she raises those little boys. She has a sense of humour, AND she keeps her temper in desperate circumstances. Modern technology aside, this is just the way many of the best of mothers have behaved through the ages. There is yet hope for the younger generation. You go, girl!
Meanwhile, she has posted the day of her disaster on the Internet so others could get a kick out of it, and everyone is saying "There's no way it could have been that bad. My, you do make up some amazing stories." Ha ha.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Month of the Novel--A new video series
This series is based on the National Novel Writing Month challenge.

Background music is by Benjamin Dawson, formerly of the Highlands Youth Ensemble and a very talented young composer. When my novel series (now represented by volume 2, The King and Queen Game, which will eventually be joined by Volume 1, One Perfect Bride, and Volume 3, The Knitting Room) becomes a series of award-winning movies, Benjamin will be asked to write music for them. That is, if he isn't already a famous composer and too busy writing soundtracks for other movies by that time.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Viking doll

This guy is in California at the moment, making movies.

He's got a papier-mache head and soft stuffed body. His arms and hands are felt (the first time I've ever made hands with articulated fingers; it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be) and the rest of him is fulled wool fabric, remnants from a costumer's stash, which I receive on a regular basis from a friend. The tunic has hand embroidery around the edges. The belt, sword sheath and shoes are polyester suede fabric; the shirt is cotton (another remnant-- a coarse homespun-looking fabric called Osnaburg, I think) and his "chain mail" shirt is crocheted from silver-gray nylon crochet cord. His hair and beard are natural llama wool. This is the first beard I've ever made for a doll. I learned a lot. :o)

The helmet and sword are made from Crayola "Model Magic," similar to the Amaco "Cloud Clay" I used on the Sam Vimes doll last July (see earlier post). They're painted and varnished in acrylics.

He was made for a fund-raiser for the National Novel Writing Month challenge.

Day 11 of National Novel Writing Month

Someone has figured out that if you start on day 1 and write only 1667 words per day, you can easily make it to 50K in 30 days.

I am a bit behind, having only 5843 words so far, but even so I should be able to finish in a month if I type a mere 2325 words per day from now on.

It isn't too late. Want to join me? There may be a novel in you--and if there is, it is one that no one else in the world can write.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Irish dance dress with new detachable collar

The Stardust Irish Dancers will be performing at a Celtic festival in a few weeks. This is the dress they will wear. The Celtic-style applique motif on the detachable collar/bib was designed by the teacher; the collar itself was designed by me and I did the sewing. Unnamed Irish dancer models the outfit, which looks OK except you can't tell how hard I worked pressing the whole thing, and the shoulders look much nicer once they were actually basted down instead of just being temporarily secured by hidden safety pins, as here.
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My non-functioning cell phone

I have two cell phones. One functions in the usual way--I can make and receive calls with it. The other is non-functioning; it still works for everything except the one purpose for which cell phones are meant to be used. Why do I keep it? Because it makes a great "reminder" calendar, alarm clock or timer! It has up to four different alarms that can be set with all those different ring tones, which not only clue me in to something I don't want to forget, but also (by the use of the different ring tones, which I have mentally assigned to different purposes) tell me what it is I'm trying to remember!

Any "reminder" having to do with husband has one ring tone; things pertaining to each child have their own ring tone (WHO is it I'm supposed to be picking up after play practice this afternoon?) and kitchen-related things such as bread coming out of the oven have a ring tone of their own. I'm an artist/craftsperson, so art-related events have their ring tone as well. You can see this is a very useful cell phone even though I haven't made a real phone call with it in something over three years.

But I lost it last year. I really thought it was gone for good, that I had lost it far from home and would never see my little NFCP ( non-functioning cell phone) again. You see, I couldn't even call my own cell phone to find's non-functioning and doesn't take calls.

Then, many months later, husband was searching under the bed for something of his own he'd lost, and there was my little NFCP hiding in a dark corner. (Shows how often I clean under the bed.) Of course the battery had long since run out of charge, but that was minor--just plug it in, and within a few hours I had charge again, good as ever.

Just to keep this from happening again, I set an "everyday" alarm to ring at a time when I'm usually around the house, 3 pm. As long as it's in the house, no matter where it is, I will find it at that time of day. Even if I'm not searching for my NFCP at that time, the alarm is a convenient reminder that the afternoon is half over. And theoretically, if the cell phone was ever lost somewhere outside the home, someone else might find it at that time of day and I'd have a chance of getting it returned to me.

The main problem with this clever system is that I occasionally, just once in a great while, walk out of the house to do errands with the wrong cell phone, the NFCP, in my pocket. It makes a wonderful clock and alarm/reminder, but it's not all that great at taking urgent calls from loved ones at home.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Novel, The King and Queen Game, is almost finished

This is my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel, and I have "finished" (if such a verb is anything but ludicrous in this context) the major rewrite I've been working on since the end of May. I am considering posting the book in its entirety as a PDF file on this here blog, once I'm relatively satisfied with it (or at least tired of looking at it). I might do it even if no one writes back to beg me to do so, but any begging emails will definitely help lead me in that direction. You never know--your positive criticisms might make the difference between a splendid, inspiring novel and one that is merely mediocre!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sam Vimes is travelling to Wisconsin

There's a Discworld convention in Wisconsin this week, and Sam Vimes is attending from east Tennessee--or at least, a doll representing him will be. Actually, there will probably be quite a few individuals representing Sam Vimes at this convention, but I am guessing this doll could be the smallest.

He's got a papier-mache head, like the Chris Baty doll, but he's dressed in quasi-medieval clothing and armour from the fictional Discworld. I tried something a little different with him, something I've never done before: I made his armour and a few other accoutrements from Cloud Clay, an air-drying modeling substance that resembles marshmallows more than anything else I've ever handled, before it dries. When that happens, it becomes firm, yet flexible and very light, like those sheets of coloured craft foam kids make things from in VBS. It doesn't stick to anything but itself, so I modeled Sam's helmet and armour directly on his head and body and they fit nicely. When I painted them with metallic-coloured acrylic craft paints, they look quite realistic, and my fingerprints and wavy edges just look like really, really battered armour...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Script

According to Script Frenzy's validator machine thing, I have written 136 pages of a script. For some reason, this blog won't currently let me add my winner's icon as a Gadget, so here it is as a graphic:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This was among my favourites of Chris Baty's pep talks. It's poorly filmed but the message is quite easy to hear and understand.