Wednesday, August 28, 2013

More DIY...

I posted a few weeks ago about re-doing the master bedroom closet and replacing the builder 'boob' light in the upstairs hall.  Since then, I've also replaced the 'boob' light in the downstairs hall and we've also started switching out all of our mini-blinds (in almond, what was I thinking?) for 2.5 inch wide white blinds.  Love the way the wide white blinds look.  Since it's so humid where we live, we decided to go with the faux wood plastic ones as opposed to wood ones.  They're also easier on the pocketbook and can be taken down and hosed with water.    Here's a pic of my home office from my desk with the new blinds open.  I'm waiting on short plain white curtains to hang above the curved part of the window.  That's what was up there before (only in cream to match the almond minis).  I know that we could get the 'fan' type of blind for that part of the window but, honestly, it just seems like another dust trap.  BTW, the curtains on this window are the only ones in our entire house.  I'm not a curtain person although I love them in other people's homes.

My treehouse.

My recording closet is on the opposite side of the room from the window which really helps with keeping noise out.  (Well, that and the padding and insulation in the closet.)

Here's a recap of the lights that I put up to replace the builder's boob lights.  First, to refresh your memory, here's what the boob lights looked like:

 Here's the light we replaced it with in the upstairs hallway.  A fisherman's light with a seed glass cover.

Here's the light we bought to replace the one in the downstairs hall.  Love the modern look of this one. 

And here's a fuller view of what the downstairs hallway looks like with the new light (above) replacing the boob light. 

So, along with the boob light I replaced in the master closet, our house is now boob-light free.  I don't just love, I lurve our closet now.

It's nice to get these things done that I've wanted to do for years (in some cases) or because I thought of them after seeing someone else's blog or in a magazine.  The blinds are the most expensive of my DIY projects.  Of the three lights, the most expensive one -- which was still pretty reasonable -- was the one in the downstairs hallway.  It cost approx. $90.  The upstairs hall light was around $40, as was the closet light.

Oh, I also made an Ikea run with Duane and Linda last Friday.  We all left with a few items but Duane and I both bought one of their new (and, of course, inexpensive) items.  I knew that I could find a place to hang this.  He doesn't have to be fed or given water and he'll live as long as I like in our powder room downstairs.  Our new pet -- a bird in a cage.

Birdy in the powder room.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Band Called Death autographed poster!

I've posted here before about our nephew, Jeff Howlett, and the documentary he and his friend Mark Covino made called A Band Called Death.  Well, there's been a flurry of activity surrounding this film since I first blogged about it for the LA Film Festival last year.  At this point, Jeff and Mark and the members of Death have seen their movie shown at numerous film festivals in the U.S. and abroad.  The DVD of the movie has just been released.  It can be purchased a number of places including here, the homesite for Drafthouse Films.  You can also download the movie for viewing from several sites including the Drafthouse site.  George and I are waiting on our Blu-ray DVD which is now on it's way!

The guys of Death, Bobby Hackney, Dannis Hackney and Bobbie Duncan, were nice enough to autograph a poster of their film to both of us and our nephew, Jeff, sent it to us.  You'll notice that each of the guys signed it to 'Nick' and Lee Ann instead of 'George' and Lee Ann.  This is due to George's dual identity.  He was always called by his middle name as a baby and while growing up.  All of his family still call him 'Nick' for Nicholas.  However, when I met him in college he was going by his first name then -- George.  He said he was tired of correcting people.  It can get crazy when I'm around his family and everyone except me calls him Nick.  So the guys in the band know him as Nick via our nephew Jeff.

George had the poster framed at a local frame shop.  The owner of the shop had never heard of Death before but now they've gained another fan.  He was the one who suggested that the poster be framed in a vinyl black frame with tiny grooves that resemble a vinyl LP.  It looks great and George has it proudly on display in his mancave.  Here's the full poster:

Here are some close-ups of the guy's signatures along with one of the corner of the frame where you can see the type of frame a little better.

We love having this memento of Death and Jeff's first film via his company, Howlermano Productions.  Jeff is also heavily into photography, too, which you'll see if you search his website.  Oh, there was also a really cool illustration in The New Yorker magazine in July by an artist named Ronald Wimberly.   It's basically a juxtaposition of Death in the '70's and how the guys look now.  Needless to say, it was pretty cool seeing Jeff's name in The New Yorker.  We've been subscribers for over 25 years.

David Hackney

Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Iambik Audiobook Release

Iambik Audiobooks has released a new audiobook in the science fiction/fantasy genre.  Vassal of El by Gloria Oliver is narrated by Kirk Ziegler.   From RM Blacketer in Scribesworld: "When you sit down to read VASSAL OF EL be sure you have plenty of time because you simply will not want to put it down. As you journey with Torren you are soon aware that all is not as it seems, although you cannot put your finger on exactly how you know. With masterful hints of foreshadowing and half forgotten memories the author slowly brings forth the story of Torren and of the young girl he has unwillingly befriended. The twists and turns keep you guessing and just as you have it figured out, you have to reevaluate your conclusions. The author draws you in so that Torren becomes a friend you care about and empathize with. It is a work that offers not only entertainment but inspiration and hope for us all.  This is definitely a must read and I have given it a full four star rating."

You can listen to the entire first chapter here at Iambik and the book may be purchased from Audible here.  Get a head-start on your weekend with a good sci-fi listen!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Three estate sales: one was icky, one was good and one was great

Duane and I hit some estate sales as part of our usual Friday routine when there are interesting ones advertised.  Linda was out of town this weekend so it was just the two us setting out in Mrs. Peel for the south side of town.  The first (and most anticipated) sale was being held by a woman named Dixie.  She does this professionally and we know that there will always be a good mix of items.  Strangely, though, Dixie mentioned that everyone should wear sturdy shoes and basically enter and search at our own risk.  Hmm... Apparently, this house was built in the 1920's and was still owned by the original family.  OK, that's no big deal.  The outside, as you can see in the pic, was overgrown and the house sat on a corner lot.  The other houses in the neighborhood looked very nice and well-kept.  This one kind of stuck out.  Like a sore thumb.  Duane and I were trying to decide, as we made our way gingerly through the house, how to describe it.  We decided it was probably the most disgusting house we had ever entered.  NOTHING had been changed in that house since it was built and, by that, I mean nothing had been repaired, replaced, etc.  We couldn't figure out how anyone actually lived there.

There were definitely nice items in the house but everything was so filthy and uncared for that it made us hesitant to touch things.  That didn't stop some people, of course.  There were the usual people who run through with bags and boxes just grabbing items.  Oh, I should mention that everything in the house was for sale.  By that, I mean windows, doors, fixtures, etc.  The house was going to be bulldozed after the sale.  It really was the only merciful thing to do.  The property is quite valuable and I'm sure the neighbors will be happy to be rid of the house.  The outside actually looks much better than the inside did.  It had been painted at some point in the not-to-distant past.  I suspect that was to mollify the homeowner's association.  Wonder how many of the neighbors had seen the inside.  The odd part was that this wasn't just an elderly person living there alone.  One of the bedrooms had belonged to a kid/teenager who had written and painted all sorts of things on the walls.

I did actually find a few small items.  One was a miniature volume on Shakespeare's most famous quotes.  By the way, there were so many books but they were in abominable condition.  Many of us commented on that as we shopped.  Such a shame.  I also found some pretty crochet threads along with a hook and some double pointed knitting needles that had mercifully been housed in plastic.  I was also tempted to pick up a Nippon bowl for Linda that was priced at $6.  Duane and I hesitated, though, because, like any collector, Linda knows what she likes.  This little footed bowl was somewhat similar to the style of a larger one she'd purchased at the Webster Flea Market last spring.  After we give Linda a good description, we'll know if we should have bought it if any future situations like this arise.

As  you can see from the pictures -- and these are just a few -- there were antique clocks, lamps, and furniture along with the books, etc.  Lots of stone garden items outside, too, but it took a brave person to wade through the neglected tall weeds in the fenced back yard.  I had sandals on.  Case closed.

Duane's finds.
We hit a smaller sale in the same part of town and Duane lucked out by finding a pair of framed prints by an artist she likes and a book that I highly recommended, Into the Wild.  The ladies holding this sale were very nice.  The older one was gardening and had a talking parrot on her shoulder.  Her daughter came out of the house and she had a pet rat on her shoulder.  The parrot kept us entertained by repeating most of what we said.

After the second sale, we decided to stop at my sister Carol's shop -- Chris's Cookies & Cupcakes.  She's in the process of remodeling but let us in and Duane and I left with some yummy cookies.  We saved those for later and headed to the neighborhood Starbucks near Duane's house.  After spending time with drinks and talking, we were headed back to Duane's house to end our morning when we passed a sign for an estate sale in her neighborhood.  Duane even recognized the address.  That's one of the advantages of going out with someone who grew up in a town.  Duane knows a lot of the history and keeps us informed about various people and places she lived.  Well, this sale was definitely worth it even if it had been the only one we attended.  Cute and clean little house with ladies Duane actually knew.  Everything priced fairly.

My buys.
Duane was able to purchase three paintings by a woman she had adored while growing up.  One is a large charcoal drawing with an old coffee grinder and the other two are small oil paintings.  Very nice that Duane has these to remember her special 'aunt.'  She also bought a large white decorative serving bowl.   I purchased several items, too.  One is a signed print of Yorktown Onions brought back from Europe by the owner of the house.  I also purchased a red leather embossed bookmark from Scotland.  I purchased a number of this type of bookmark when I vacationed in the UK years ago.  It's nice to have this one to add my collection.  I also found a beautiful vintage pin made of wood with carved resin flowers on the top.  This will look great on the lapel of a jacket when it gets cooler.  Then when I happened to mention that Duane and I crochet and knit for charity, one of the ladies brought out a bunch of unopened skeins of cotton yarn.  I snapped them up and will divide them with Duane and Linda for our various projects.

I'm so glad that we caught this last sale and that Duane was able to catch up with some old friend's of her parents that she had known while growing up.  The day started out a little weird with that first sale but, as usual, we never know what we're going to find.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Chance to Win a Free Audiobook!

Author Sharon Delarose is offering one lucky winner a chance to win a free download of Yankee Go Home!  I narrated this book for Sharon and had a great time doing it.  These are true stories (with some name changes) of Sharon's attempts to 'fit in' as a Yankee girl in the deep south.   As we say in the south, there's the south and there's the deep south.  Lots of colorful characters and great stories including some misadventures.  Go to Sharon's blog and enter your name and email address for a chance to win. Giveaway ends August 21, 2013, and the winner will be chosen at random.  Enter here
and good luck! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Catching up

I've been in the midst of a whirlwind of activities around our house while taking a self-imposed break from recording.  These have been fairly involved -- see my previous post on my DIY of our master closet -- and just plain time-consuming.  Changing out light fixtures, painting and replacing woodwork around some of our windows.  Just trying to find a match to the original paint color in our house took numerous trips to home improvement stores before discovering that the paint used in 1988 was still being manufactured and sold.  I just had to know where to look for it.  (Insert rolling of eyes here.)  Still, it's a great feeling to get projects that have been piling up for so long out of the way.

I have been recording a book for LibriVox but even that came to a standstill earlier this week when the central AC in our house started blowing warm air.  I should probably point out, again, that we live in Florida.  Cue screaming.  We got the AC guy out the same day.  He was able to secure a fix but it seems we need some part that must be ordered.  Seriously?  It wouldn't be that big a deal (as long as the AC still works) except for the fact that the entrance to the attic that leads to the AC is inside a small walk-in closet upstairs.  The one I use as my recording studio.  Not good.   I had to take everything out except for the 'silencer' material nailed to the walls.  This meant not only removing my microphone and various other items I keep at hand but also the material I have tacked to the ceiling of the closet because, of course, the entrance to the attic is located on the ceiling of this closet.  Good thing I wasn't in the middle of a paid recording with a deadline looming.  However, I'm winding down my house projects and want to begin auditioning again.  Needless to say -- I am not pleased. 

I did manage to put together an official homepage for my book narration work.  You can find me here.  That was another project I had been putting off because I was too busy recording.  Right now it's plain and basic but also easy to navigate.  I don't care for 'busy' sites although I do plan to upgrade down the road.  At least now I own my domain name and have one site for anyone who is interested in what I've recorded. 

Now if only that part for the AC will hurry up and arrive, I can put my studio back together.  I feel so lucky to actually have this closet in the center of the house upstairs (no outside walls).  This cut down on noise before I even treated the walls and ceiling.  I'd like to finish recording The Secret Mark for LibriVox and then dive into auditioning again.  SOON.