Thursday, May 31, 2012


A neighbor's son who's home from college was just telling me that his younger sister recently got her driver's license.  He seemed a little freaked that his baby sister would now be 'out there' on the road.   The same road he drives on.  I know that feeling.  When my two nephews, both of whom are now in college, learned to drive, I probably worried almost as much as their mother (my sister) did.  Sam and Ben are very different drivers.  Sam drives like a little old man.  I mean that in the most complimentary way.  He's extremely careful and cautious but drives the speed limit and is a defensive driver.  Ben, the younger one, has a tendency to be the kind of driver that Sam has to defend himself from.  Ben has gotten better over the past two years but he now lives on campus and rides his bike pretty much everywhere.  For now, it's probably for the best.

I took Driver's Education class in high school which pretty much everyone did during the '70's.  I think my parents got a break on insuring me if I took the class.  Football coaches taught the driver's ed classes.  That was pretty much my only contact with these guys.  One taught the classroom portion and the other one rode with us in the cars.  The one in the classroom was a young guy who couldn't have been out of college for very long.   He had a very thick southern accent (possibly Mississippi, George or Alabama) and still had hay in his hair.  I somehow ended up sitting in the front row (which I hated but he may have seated us in alpha order -- I can't remember) and he rarely smiled but seemed to stare a lot.   I still remember coming in one Monday morning and as the coach was calling roll, he looked up at me when I answered 'Here' and this was what he said.

Coach:  "Henderson, did you dye yore ha-yer?"
Me (kind of taken aback):  "No!"
Coach:  "Hmph.  Looks differ'nt."

Nothing like having everyone else in the class trying not to laugh (I heard a few snickers) while the coach continued with the roll call.  This guy rarely reacted outwardly to anything.  Not even the, probably not unusual, incident when the obligatory gross-out this-will-happen-to-you driver's ed film was shown.  It was pretty bad.  I remember the photos on the screen of the victims of a fatal crash including a very young child.  Coach did end up a little startled and I nearly came out of my desk-chair -- you know, the kind where the desk and chair are all one piece -- when the girl sitting next to me fainted.  When she went down, her entire desk-chair went with her onto the concrete floor.  I did jump up out of my seat because the classroom had been so quiet.  The girl was OK after she regained consciousness and was sent to the school nurse.

The fun part of driver's ed is getting behind the wheel.  The cars that the school had available were mostly sedans (big American made ones) and a couple of cute VW Beetles.  Unfortunately, the Beetles were both stick shift and I didn't even attempt stick then.  We had an oval track that we were supposed to drive around next to the school parking lot.  It also had long concrete parking stoppers that were set up for regular parking and parallel parking.  I still remember when one guy named Todd tried to parallel park one of the sedans.  He managed to get the back tire of the car on the side he was supposed to 'parallel' when he got stuck on the parking stopper.  I mean really stuck.  When he tried to drive away, the tire started spinning against the stopper.   Coach and a couple of the guys from class managed to lift the back of the car over the stopper.  Poor Todd.

We weren't supposed to go very fast on the driving course but one day I noticed that one of the Beetles seemed to be flying by.  Jerry, the guy driving it, later told me that he had the car in third gear.  I think he was supposed to save that for the open road.  We had the older coach for our road sessions.  He was a physically small man and nothing seemed to bother him.  I remember that he took three of us at a time in one of the sedans and had each of us take a turn at the wheel.  The other girl in the car drove into a nearby neighborhood known for it's curvy roads with wide trees on the sides.  None of us were wearing seatbelts then and we were all kind of hanging on.  Coach had had us stop at a convenience store on the way out because he hadn't had any breakfast.  His packet of Oreos he'd placed on the dash was sliding from one end to the other.  Luckily, he held on tightly to his Coke.  He didn't say anything to the girl driving since she wasn't speeding -- she just wasn't used to the curves.  I certainly can't criticize because I made the biggest boo-boo of any of us on the way back to the school that day.  For some reason, I ran a red light.  It wasn't yellow and in the process of turning red.  It was red.  When I stopped at the next intersection, I looked at the coach.

Coach:  "Do you know what you did?"
Me (cringing):  "I ran a red light?"
Coach:  "OK.  So long as you know."

I have to say that the school coaches were much more patient than my dad was.  After he took me out one time for practice in my mom's big green Impala, I think he realized he might not be the right person for the job.  It was probably a mistake to let my sister Pam come along in the backseat since this was fun for her.  She wouldn't be able to drive for another two years.  I drove to the parking lot of a junior high school not too far from where we lived.  I wasn't doing too badly when, after parking the car at one of the concrete parking stoppers, instead of backing out I went forward.  I went pretty fast, too, because the next thing I knew the car was straddling the stopper.  I was freaked out and Dad was beyond freaked out.  He was worried about what I might have done to my mom's car.  Pam just thought it was funny until she saw that Dad wasn't laughing.  I knew that I'd either have to back the front wheels back over the stopper or go ahead and drive the back wheels over it to get out.  I can't remember which way I did it but that was one quiet ride back home.  After that my mom took me out for lessons and she was much calmer.  That surprised me because she's always been a bit nervous but this didn't seem to bother her.  Thankfully.

After I got my learner's permit but before I got my license, my dad bought me a beautiful used (one owner) 1966 silver blue Mustang.  I couldn't drive it yet but my friends and I had a great time sitting in it on Friday nights and backing it up and down my parent's driveway.  Ah, the small things in life.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Saturday shopping day

Yesterday, I went shopping with my two best buds, Linda and Duane.  We decided to hit the shops around where Duane lives since they're small-owner businesses and fun to explore.  First we hit A Modern Line  (formerly known as Kaleidoscope) and I scored with a new (vintage) piece for my matte white pottery collection.  It's the one on the left -- the bowl with the leaf pattern on the top.  This piece is unmarked.  As we continued to browse, I came across a piece of
wall art that I just had to have.  I've always loved enamel, particularly enamel on copper pieces.  This work is 3-D enamel on copper with 2 separate pieces of metal.  It's signed by the artist, Marlene Tremblay, and now hangs in my dining room  Wish I could have gotten a better picture of it because the colors are lighter than they appear in this photo and the darker section on the left actually has a lot of depth and a tiny bit of sparkle.  Very happy with this!  Linda spoke with the shop owner about a mid-century headboard for the bed in her guest room.  She's going back to the shop to pick out a stain and put down a deposit.

Our next stop was D&D and more.  Always a nice place to browse -- there's a little bit of everything in this shop.  I scored again with a small octagonal piece of Hull pottery in matte white.  (The second piece in the pic above.)  Then we stopped in next door at The Seminole Heights Antique and Consignment Shop.  This store is packed with items in various booths from different vendors.  Linda bought a lovely green vase in mint condition.  It was made by Haeger.

After shopping, we were starved so we headed to one of our favorite places to eat - Nicko's Fine Foods.  We sat in the 'Elvis' booth and Linda and I ordered breakfast food (they serve it all day on weekends) while Duane had her favorite Greek burger -- it comes with a big fat slice of feta cheese.  Mmmm...  After that we headed back to Duane's to relax and gab before calling it a day.

When I got home, I finished the purse I was making for my 5-year old niece, Ava.  I used really bright colors on this one and gave it a touch of zebra.  The purse isn't quite as orange as it appears in the photo.  It's more of a very bright pinkish coral.  I hope she likes it.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Almost finished -- with several projects

I'm rounding the last curve now on my latest paid audiobook project.  My deadline is next Thursday but I'll be finished well before then.  I'll post here when the book, The Distant Shore, becomes available on Audible, Amazon and any other sites.  Remember this one is for children or, more specifically, tweens, aged 12 and up.  I would consider it a girl's book since the main character is a girl but there are many interesting characters and the story is well-written.  The author, Debora M. Coty, includes plenty of humor but pulls no punches when it comes to the sad parts of life.  I'll have more on this title later.

I finished another scarf to send to The Humble Stitch and Linda delivered more squares last weekend for the Knit-a-Square Project.  However, I also found a little time to whip up a purse for my sister Carol to give as a birthday gift to a little girl.  Carol wanted a purse like the ones I made for our nieces Bailey and Taylor here.  Except she wanted it in HOT pink with a zebra embellishment.  I knew I could find hot pink yarn but I wasn't sure about trying to crochet a 'zebra' style flower.  Instead I found a pretty zebra pattern hair bow which I clipped to the purse.  This way, the birthday girl can either leave it on the purse or use it in her hair.  I did suggest that the bow be removed if the purse needs to be laundered.  These bags wash and dry really well and the flowers that I've made on the past ones are sewn on and wash and dry with the purse.  I'm currently making a purse for my niece Ava (Carol's daughter) and, at Carol's suggestion, I'm using pretty wild (almost neon) colors.  Will post a pic when it's finished.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Record, edit, repeat. Oh, and Amigurumi Elmo, too.

I'm deep into my latest book recording now so my days are pretty much the same.  Record, edit, repeat.  I like the story so that always helps.  My proof-listener, Betsie, also likes the book and that's even better.  I count on her to catch any errors I miss on my own proof-listening.  I'm recording The Distant Shore by Debora M. Coty.  Betsie says that the story reminds her a bit of Anne of Green Gables.

I did take a little time out last week to make an Amigurumi Elmo for my niece Taylor's third birthday.  He was pretty fast and easy to make.  I found the pattern for him at Sweet N' Cute Creations.  It was so nice of this crafter to share her pattern.  I didn't 'felt' him and I made his legs a little stiffer so that they don't really bend but those were the only changes I made.  He's just adorable.  I hope Taylor likes him.  She's always had a 'thing' for Elmo so I couldn't pass this up.

Back to my editing.  Oy vey...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My visit with family and record, record, record

I spent five days with my sister, Heidi, and her girls in Virginia so I've been 'out of the loop' for the past week.  Since I've been back, I've been working on recording my latest project and trying to shake a cold I picked up.  Grrr...  No one at my sister's house was sick so I suspect I picked this up on the plane going up.  The guy next to me was sick although he tried to be very careful.  Sigh.  It happens.

My mom flew up with me so we could spend time with Heidi and her girls while her husband, Charlie, was in New Orleans for his yearly 'man-time' at the Jazz Fest.  It's always fun seeing two of my favorite little people  --  my nieces.  The four year old, Bailey,   posed with the purse I made for her just before she biked around the neighborhood with me following her on foot.  Poor Taylor, the two (almost 3) year old had a 12 hour stomach bug but recovered quickly and NO ONE else got it.  That was a relief.  We took the girls shopping and to the Eastern Market (one of my fave places!) on Saturday before Bailey's dance recital.  I painted Bailey's fingernails and toenails a very pale peachy pink and I also put her hair into the requisite bun.  The girls also enjoyed a lunch of Happy Meals from Mickey D's with Nanny on the deck.

The recital is part ballet and part tap and (mercifully) short.  (The audience and  the girls are both happy about that.)  Little sister Taylor gets pretty excited, too, although she's the shy one while Bailey is the extrovert.  Nanny (their grandmother) had also brought things for the girls, including matching dresses to wear that night.
Bailey & Aunt Lee Ann - BFF
I'm not sure where it comes from but Bailey is definitely part 'ham' and enjoys performing.  She never seems to behave as though she's nervous.  We let her pick out the flowers we would give her after the recital and she chose yellow tulips when we shopped at the Eastern Market. 

After posing for lots of pictures and having cookies and punch with her friends from dance class, we went to dinner and then stopped for dessert.  Yum. 

Taylor gets her turn next year.

Heidi and her girls.

Back to the grind now but it's good to be home and I'm enjoying the book I'm working on.  Also, I'm almost finished making an Amigurumi 'Elmo' to send for Taylor's birthday.  Will post a pic when I'm finished with it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Recording, editing and more yarn items

I just finished my latest solo,  for the LibriVox catalog, The Girl Aviators and the Phantom Airship by Margaret Burnham.  This one is aimed at teen and pre-teen girls.  Here's the summary I wrote for LibriVox:  "Teenagers Peggy Prescott and her brother Roy share a love of aviation that they inherited from their late father. Mr. Prescott had always dreamed of building an aeroplane that would be free of the defects of planes already invented. Peggy and Roy manage to build a plane starting with the framework their father had begun. Peggy christens it ‘The Golden Buttefly’ and she and Roy are determined to enter it in a young aviator’s contest for a prize of $5000. The Prescotts need the money desperately to save the home they share with their aunt which is about to be taken from them by the rather nasty banker, Mr. Harding. Peggy and Roy along with their best friends, Jess and Jimsy Bancroft – also sister and brother, experience many adventures – many of them while flying the Golden Butterfly. A kidnapping, missing jewels and contact with some desperate characters are just some of what the Prescotts encounter in their Long Island village of Sandy Bay. There’s never a dull moment for these two as they pursue their dream of flying."

If you like young adult books or have a child in the age range, I would highly recommend this one.  I enjoyed reading and recording it.  I'm currently recording another children's book -- this one is a paying job -- called The Distant Shore.   I'm also enjoying this book although it's aimed at a younger audience than the aviator series.

On the yarn front, I finished purses for my four year old and two year old nieces.  I'm flying to Virginia to visit them tomorrow for a long weekend.  These were fun to make and very fast.  I plan to make one for my 5 year old niece who lives near me but since she's so close, I think I'll let her choose the colors for the purse and the flower.  The purse is sized for a young child and the pattern can be found at The Tangled Happy blog.  The blogger, Sara, modified a pattern she had created earlier for adults.  The purses I made are called the Strappy Boutique bags.  I found the pattern for the flower on another site.  Megan at Tampa Bay Crochet had made this bag and pointed me in the direction of the flower -- created by Melissa on the Action Hero: Knitting Weblog.  I used worsted weight acrylic yarn and then blocked the purses (mainly for the straps) using instructions found at the Bead Knitter Gallery.  Wonderful information from the blogger (known as Bead Knitter) on blocking acrylic.  Now, when my nieces get their purses dirty, my sister can just toss them in the washer and dryer (using the temps, etc., for this yarn).  I'm putting the hairbands (which I also blocked) I made for them inside the bags.  To see one of the hairbands, check out my original post here.  I'm making an identical one in a mossy green color for my 5 year old niece -- she has beautiful green eyes.

On the charity knitting/crocheting front, I finished a pair of knitted handwarmers that I like very much.  I used a burgundy worsted weight yarn with colorful flecks.  The pattern, called Carrie Handwarmers, can be found on I am what I knit and was created by the blogger, Doris.  I am so grateful to the crafters who post their patterns and allow others to use them.  These should keep some lady's hands very warm next winter. 

I also finished the black cabled hat I was working on and a couple of more squares for Knit A Square.  My buddy, Kristen, just sent me a handful of squares for the pile so it won't be long before we have another box for The Humble Stitch.