Sunday, January 26, 2014

Amigurumi for Valentine's Day and more recordings in the works

Kissy-Lips on a Stick
I've decided that any time I'm going to knit or crochet items for my three young nieces for a holiday, I should allow myself plenty of time even if that means the items are ready well before the date they're needed.  This is my 'less stress' method of doing something fun for the girls without getting into a frazzle.  So for Valentine's Day this year, I crocheted these Amigurumi Lips and put them on lolli-pop sticks.  There are only two pictured because I'm just finishing up the third one.  Just need to sew the top and bottom lips together on the ends and then mount it on the stick.  These turned out better than I thought they would.  I was concerned at first that they wouldn't look enough like lips but they have that exaggerated 'luscious' look.  I'm calling these 'Kissy-Lips on a Stick' and I'll be including Valentine's Day M&Ms with them for each of my nieces.  The pattern is available here.  It's posted in English and Spanish.  So nice of the crafter to share this with everyone.

Amigurumi Lips -- up close and personal

I'm already looking towards what I'll make for them for Easter.  So many cute Amigurumi and knit patterns for Easter eggs, bunnies, etc.   Last year I made the girls Easter chicks and bunnies the year before that.  Both were Amigurumi crochet patterns so I might look at something to knit for them this year.

On the recording front, I just finished the Edith Wharton novella, Sanctuary.  It's now in post-production and should be available in a couple of weeks.  I'll post here and on my website ( when it's for sale on Audible.  In the mean time, I'm working on a short story that's a little different for me.  It's a sci-fi tale originally published in 1930.  Check back here for more info on this and other recordings.  Now, on to looking through Easter patterns...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Suncoast Arts Fest 2014

Yesterday, Duane, Linda and I decided to check out a juried arts show being held for the ninth year.  The show wasn't too far from where I live.  There's one of those outdoor shopping centers with wide streets for walking between the shops at the Wiregrass Mall in Wesley Chapel.  Wesley Chapel is a small community just outside Tampa and in the next county.

The Suncoast Arts Fest did not disappoint.  There were artists from all over the U.S. participating.  Painting, ceramics, woodwork, jewelry, photography, sculpture, printmaking and mixed media were just some of the categories on display and for sale.  There was also a 1K run, entertainment, and a Hands-On Kids Art Garden.  Chalk artists were busily working away during the two day show (it continued today) while shoppers watched them work their magic on the concrete areas of the mall.

Chalk art.

It was actually pretty cold for here so we were bundled up since we decided to go when the show first started at 10am yesterday (Saturday) morning.  There were so many lovely items (over 150 artists participated) that I found myself grabbing the business cards for many of the artists so I could see their websites and have time to think about any big purchase.

Photo from the 2013 show.  Warmer weather last year.
Linda purchased two signed prints that caught her eye.  They're by an artist named Zhiyong Ye from China.  Then we came across a jewelry artist who makes Origami jewelry.  We all fell in love with her designs.  Linda and I both bought necklaces from her.  The artist's name is Mary Lee and she has a website here.  She actually creates more than just jewelry but she was only selling her jewelry at this art show.  The paper she uses is called 'hanji' which she obtains from her native Korea.  It was really difficult choosing just one item.  I've always loved paper and fiber art so Mary's booth immediately caught my eye.

After the art show we headed to Panera's for coffee/tea and a snack.  Then I needed to go to Jo-Ann's for materials for the Valentine's Day goodies I'm making for my three nieces this year.  I'll post more about that project when I have something to show.

We would highly recommend this show if you happen to be in the area around this time next year.  I look forward to attending again.

Our purchases, including the ones from Jo-Ann's.

My necklace on the left, Linda's on the right.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New short story available for sale on Audible!

My latest recording has been released on Audible.  It's a short story called The Fulness of Life by Edith Wharton. 

A woman dies and discovers that the afterlife allows her to choose a soul mate for eternity if she felt she was denied one in life. After complaining that her husband never understood her and had many habits that annoyed her, she is introduced to another soul who seems to be her perfect match. Who will she choose? This story touches on ideas of different types of love and how our wants and our needs may be two very different things. 

The story may be purchased from Audible here.

I'm currently working on a book, also by Edith Wharton, called Sanctuary.  I hope to have it in post production by late next week.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Re-carpeting a library

I've mentioned more than once on this blog about how much I hate carpet.  Specifically, wall-to-wall carpet.  During my tenure as a medical librarian, the library was re-carpeted.  Twice.  The really
memorable one was the first time because all of the employees had to help AND men were brought in from the nearest prison to do the really heavy work.  Yes, we had our very own chain-gang in the library.

The original carpet that was installed when the library was built was a beautiful deep blue plaid atop a thick padding.  Unfortunately the constant pushing/rolling of loaded book carts over it caused the carpet to eventually roll away from the padding and the seams in the carpet to split.  So, it was decided that this time around, we would use industrial type carpet (no padding) that would be literally glued to the concrete floor.  The color our head librarian chose was truly dreadful.  We referred to it as tomato soup because the shade of burnt orange/red looked just like what you see in a can of tomato
soup.  And not in a good way. 

Apparently, using prisoners on work-release was something that the university had done for several projects.  These prisoners weren't considered high risk, meaning there weren't supposed to be any murderers among them.  There was some concern about the fact that the library was mostly staffed by women and these guys hadn't been around women in awhile.  I was in my 20's at the time and had just finished grad school so it seemed a little scary but kind of interesting.

All of the books and journals had to be removed from the shelving.  Then the shelving had to be broken down and moved before the carpet could be installed.  This is where we (library staff and prisoners) came in.  We started boxing up the books and journals before the 'guys' as we began calling them arrived.  We tried to keep things in order as much as possible and, of course, to mark all boxes that were packed.

Not one of our guys. :(
The first thing we noticed when the guys arrived with their guard was that the guard actually did wear mirrored sun glasses.  I kept thinking of the movie "Cool Hand Luke" although there weren't any Paul Newmans in the group. The guard talked to the library staff and answered any questions we had.  We noticed that he didn't carry a gun.  He told us that was to keep any of the guys from managing to get it from him and using it.  I felt better already.  He also told us that this job was like heaven for the guys because they often had to work out in the blazing sun digging post holes, etc.  Being in an air-conditioned building was a treat.

We were divided into groups with a mix of staff and some of the guys and assigned different sections of the library (upstairs and downstairs) to remove the items from the shelves and place them onto book carts.  Most of the work went fine with no incidents.  Some of the guys were more talkative than others.  There was one that everyone called 'Square-Head' -- for obvious reasons if you saw him.  He was actually pretty funny.  He wouldn't say why he was in prison.  One of our student assistants asked him when he was getting out.  Square-Head laughed and said, "Honey, I'm a three-time loser!  I ain't ever gettin' out!" 

Another guy named Dan was kind of quiet but very polite.  He was also huge.  Well over six feet tall and hands the size of baseball mitts.  Apparently he had been a trucker -- a teamster -- before going to prison.  At one point I was paired with him.  He was going to take the journals from the shelves and hand them to me to arrange on the book truck.  I turned around for the first few journals and discovered him standing there holding out what amounted to half the shelf of buckram bound journals between his two hands.  I looked at him and apologized because I knew I couldn't handle that many (or even a quarter of that many) at one time.  We decided to switch and I handed him the journals -- one to two at a time -- and he placed them on the truck.  I had the feeling that I was slowing him down.  Later when an older member of the staff, Milly, was paired with him, we noticed that she was sitting in a chair while Dan did all of the work.  Milly grinned and said that Dan told her that he'd take care of everything and that this work was too much for a lady like her.  Milly was in her 60's and had a strong southern accent.  After her shift (or rather Dan's shift) was finished, she asked me and my friend Shirley, "That Dan is soooo nice.  I wonder what he did?"  Shirley responded with a completely deadpan face, "He killed his mother."  Heh, heh.  We found out later that Dan foolishly agreed to transport drugs during one of his trucking hauls.  According to the guard, Dan was the type of guy who had messed up but just wanted to do his time and go home to his family.  The guard said that some guys would come and go like the prison had a revolving door but the guys like Dan paid for their crime and never got into trouble again.  He said that the guys' last job had actually been digging post holes in the summer Florida heat and that Dan worked like a machine and never complained. 

We did have one incident when the guys were working with us that was kind of funny.  The back door of the library led outside and you could walk down to the clinic where physicians on staff saw patients.  Just outside the clinics was a drive-through area for dropping off and picking up patients.  One of the guys somehow managed to get out and make his way down to the clinics where he was picked up by his girlfriend in the drive-through area.  I never heard how quickly he was found but I suspect it didn't take long.

It was getting close to Halloween when we finished up the carpeting and we wanted to do something to show the guys how much we appreciated their help.  We decided to throw a little party for them in our staff lounge.  We had sandwiches, side dishes, a big cake and bowls of candy for Halloween sitting around the room.  To our surprise the guys didn't seem very interested in the food or the cake.  However, they were stuffing the candy into their pockets.  The guard told us that they could use the candy to trade for cigarettes, etc., with other inmates when they returned to the prison.


The second time the library was re-carpeted wasn't nearly as interesting but it was also a relief because the staff was spared the labor.  An outside company was brought in and they did everything while we just tried to stay out of their way.  We still had a pizza party afterwards just to celebrate the fact that the job was finished.    


Sunday, January 5, 2014

New recordings in the works for the New Year!

I've started recording again and now have a short story, The Fulness of Life, by Edith Wharton in post production.  It should be for sale on Audible in a few weeks.  Continuing with more Edith Wharton, I've just begun recording a novella she wrote called Sanctuary

My narration of Emile Zola's classic, The Ladies' Paradise, has been doing very well on Audible.  Many thanks to my buddy, Linda, who is also a first-class proof-listener! 

Stay tuned for more recording news, estate sales, yarn projects and anything else that pops up.  Hope everyone is having a great New Year (so far)!

Tomorrow is Duane's birthday so Linda and I are taking her to lunch at a new place we haven't tried yet along with a little shopping.  After that we're heading back to my house for red velvet cake (courtesy of BJ's -- I can not tell a lie) and pressies.  Happy Birthday, Duane!