It’s a WRAP. Cut….

…fade into black (a starry night)….

Happy New Year!

2009. –Time really does go faster when you are having fun! And yet, some things seem a lifetime ago!

Over all, the year was a good one for me. I hope it was for you, too!

I actually accomplished some of my—well, I wouldn’t call them exactly resolutions—but some of the goals I had set for myself.

I have started to become a bit more serious about the photography; got my website up and running. (www.rteest42.smugmug.com)

I actually started, finished and entered a quilt into a challenge! (didn’t make it, but I entered!!)

I finished writing my fan fiction story, started in 2007; 178,000-ish words later, The Big Chill got its Happily Ever After.

We traveled, and I met new cousins and caught up with old friends…

(You will note the eat less chocolate/exercise more types of ‘resolutions’ are not featured here, nor will they be in the future, lol!!)

This new year, I would like to get back to writing, I would like to FINISH some of the over 35 quilt projects I have started, I would like to concentrate more on genealogy, and cataloging/scanning family photos. As well as take more photos, sell more photos, and organize the house, the studio specifically, and probably do some more cooking, and spend more time with friends and family and and and and….

None are really resolutions, because they only seem to put undue pressure on you, and untold, unnecessary guilt, when you are unable to hold to it…

And that seems a pretty negative way to start a new decade!

Balance. My word of the year…..

I hope that 2010 brings you only the best of everything!!!

(and I am headed to bed…work awaits at 7:30 am….)

Meet Twitchy…

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is a work in progress of mine. This is Twitchy.

Twitchy _face2

Twitchy is a doll that I have been working on on and off for the past two years.

She was named after my muse. My muse is a fickle wench, and she drags me hither and yon. I rarely can stay focused on one project (be it quilting, writing, photography, genealogy, gardening, housework…you get the idea, right??) long enough to complete it.

In the summer of 2007, I was deeply in the middle of writing a fan fiction story, when this line of prose came from my characters mouth. “Why so twitchy, Babe?”

Twitchy lying2

It didn’t suit the character in that particular environment; it wasn’t working in the greater scheme of things, so I abandoned it.

The sentence continued to haunt me for a week, so I wrote a little one shot, using the same characters but a different reality. Then that took on a life of its own, and that became a 15,000 word piece!

The story, Why So Twitchy Babe, is finished. As is the story that started it, Big Chill, after a long hiatus caused by Twitchy herself.

Twitchy, however, is still unfinished. She is only the second fabric doll I have ever made (the first being Eli, about 28 years ago, for my babiest brother)

Twitchy resting

I have made a lot of mistakes with her, (her head is on crooked, and she has the hands of a half-back for example) but I have been enjoying myself!

Twitchy believes that she should be somewhere on a sandy beach (cabana boys bringing her mojitos) looking for inspiration, not stuck sitting on a shelf in my studio…

The Fat Lady Has Sung

The Fat Lady has sung!

Just over two years have been given over to my latest project—a fictional piece I wrote….

If you’ve been a faithful reader of my blog (you HAVEN’T?? for SHAME!!!) then you know I enjoy writing something called Fan Fiction. A few years back I started writing a story because I was frustrated at having to wait almost a year to find out what Janet Evanovich was going to do with her characters in the Stephanie Plum series. Turns out it was a wise move on my part; I’m not at all fond of the direction she’s gone.

In any event, I enjoyed the experience. The working out a plot, developing characters over and above the ones she provided, and even giving more history to her characters themselves.

It also has provided me the opportunity to write fiction, with the small crutch of a map, if you will. Starting from scratch, staring at the blank page (screen) is scary enough even when you know the names and histories of some of the characters. I found that having that road map gave me the ability to meander, wander if you will, look for alternate paths. I discovered new characters waiting to join the story; I discovered that the characters I thought I knew had far more layers than we had been permitted to see.

After the first story, Geometry Lessons, I was crowned Queen of Angst by the readers of the various sites I post on. I don’t write like Janet Evanovich. I got deep into the nitty-gritty, and my characters had flaws. They had real-life adult experiences; and they had potty mouths.

I hadn’t planned on continuing. But, another story developed in my head, with nary the smallest permission from me. It was a CD I listened to, The Big Chill soundtrack. I kept hearing in the lyrics the three main characters of the Plum books.

I decided to go with it. I would write a short story for each song that worked. Ignore the songs that didn’t work. It would be a lark. They didn’t have to become one story- it would be more of an anthology. That idea lasted for a short time. The songs wove themselves together, and the story The Big Chill is long, complex, and FINISHED now. (It was interrupted midway through by a throwaway line I heard one of the characters mutter. It didn’t fit in the story I was writing, but it pestered me till I gave it its own story, Why So Twitchy, Babe?)

I would love it if you read some of my work. If you do, remember two things….One, I don’t mince words, thoughts or actions. Two, REVIEW!!! Let me know what you think!

The next step I suppose, is to start out fresh, with only my imagination as a guide, and create an entirely new world.

Yikes. Maybe Janet Evanovich will provide more fodder for me in June!

New Years Day 2009

If you are a sometimes reader of my blog (And, indeed as I am only a sometimes WRITER of said blog; I can’t ask more of YOU than I do of myself) you may recall that about 11 months back, I made some late entry New Years Resolutions.”

Well, yeah, that worked well. No, really it did. In a way. I DID get a good deal of Genealogical stuff scanned. But, I discovered a great deal more, and inherited a small collection of Nana’s photos, AND I never did get them all clean and shiny and up on line, so…

Let’s call it a wash, ok? No harm, no foul.

Tomorrow is a new day, and all that rot. I played with some the other day, and discovered that at least four generations of us have the same mouth. (What do YOU think?)

I could spend all my time editing them, bringing them back to life. It’s fun and keeps me from housework. Right there is reason enough, if you ask me.

However, it keeps me from quilting. (Somewhere in the studio are a few dozen unfinished projects) And from editing MY OWN photographs, burning CD’s, getting them on line and trying to sell some. Oh, and writing – It keeps me from writing –(I’ve a Fan Fiction story I’m 150k into, my hero is lying, gravely injured in a hospital bed, yet, here I am, goofing off. It’s no wonder my muse has up and left…)

So, do I do the New Years Resolution thing again? Or do I put my money where my mouth is with the whole Reduce, ReUse, Recycle theme and recycle LAST YEARS RESOLUTION(S)?

One ‘goal’ is going to be not taking plastic bags. I sew. I can make bags. For a buck I can BUY bags at the store. And do I NEED a bag for a roll of THREAD?? (thanks Kerin, for the inspiration)

Hmmm. Ok, that is a selfless resolution. Onto some selfish ones.

I will QUILT!!! I will try very hard to buy only SOME fabric. And I will even try to make said fabric have a plan! Not just become part of my Fabric 401k, (which by the way, despite the economy, is holding steady. A yard is a yard is 36 inches)

I will get off my duff and try to get some of my photographs SOLD. (wanna help?)

I think that’s enough. Don’t want to overdo the whole planning my life thing.

Another year over, a new one just begun….

And what have we to show for it?

New friends were made,

Old friends re-discovered.

Goodbyes were said,

But greetings were offered.

We experienced vast Historic days.

We strove to laugh in many ways.

New places were discovered;

Old places once again uncovered.

Happy news out weighed the sad;

On balance, it was a good year.

With more of the same to come! Happy New Year 2009!!

(Oh, I do have an interactive part to this New Years Resolution thing… I want YOU to resolve to leave me COMMENTS!!!!!)

Fearless Fourteen

My little vent….

 

(….in the real world, it doesn’t make an iota of difference, really. So, ignore me if you want. No solving world hunger, or saving lives or deciding on future world leaders)

 

But it’s bugging me, nonetheless. The other day, I was able to read an ARC. An Advanced Readers Copy of a new novel, the 14th in the series. (Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Novels, for those who care) It’s unpublished till next month; there will possibly be only some modest changes between now and then, based solely on the fact that it’s due to hit the stores on June 17th.

 

Suffice it to say, with much certainty, I read the book as it will be published. And honestly? It stank. I wanted to like it. I love the characters, and have invested much of my free time writing about them, giving them my own endings, in something called Fan Fiction. It’s been an amazing opportunity for me to hone my writing skills, learn about developing characters, creating plots—all that fun literary stuff.

 

Yet this book fell short on just in just about every category. I’ve written a letter and sent it to the publisher and the author, so it’s not like I’m making you have to listen to me whine ineffectually. But what is bothering me is this. I and a number of others who have read the advanced copy of the book have posted reviews on the book selling sites, as they allow and ask. And after a short time, the book went from 5 stars, with peoples’ reviews being along the lines of—“I love this series and can’t wait to read the newest installment”—- (Not by any stretch a REVIEW, by the way) to— “Fell asleep trying to make it through. Not the author’s best work, sloppily written…..etc.”

 

In other words, poor reviews by people who have READ the book. It seems however, that Barnes and Nobles.com isn’t really interested in REVIEWS. The third day after the ARC was available the book went from 5 stars to 2.5 stars.

 

And then something miraculous happened. All the bad reviews DISAPPEARED. There are currently about a dozen ‘reviews’…all singing the praises of PAST books.

 

And you know what, it just agrravates me.

INFO dumping…

I have about a half dozen thoughts, that could be posted tonight, but I don’t know if I’m really in the mood to flesh any one of them out at the moment, so I think just a random sampling of what’s rolling around in my head would be enough (or possibly WAY too much for some)

So, without further ado and with absolutely no order to the listing….

1-flowers/animals…

2-writing

3-quilting

4-joy?

5-anniversary

6-computer

Last week Timmy and I went to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and I had a blast taking some lovely floral shots. That you can’t see. Because of(let me see) # 6. The computer. Right, recall that computer I got from Joe for my birthday? It’s great. Wonderful (no, Really Joe, i MEAN IT, Thanks!!!) However, it and I have had a difference of opinion on where I store software, whether I wanted all 110,000 messages sent to my new OUTLOOK, etc.

But now, basically, I am good to go. Except for the monitor which is small (I didn’t think it was, I thought it the size of a house, but the SCREEN part of the monitor is SMALL!!!) and the fact that my Photoshop Elements claims a file is missing and won’t upload. So, I just ordered myself Elements 6.0 and when it arrives, I will be able to share images (I mean, I COULD…but I shot in RAW, and they are HUGE…..)

Ok, that was the flowers, part one. Part two is that I planted seeds on Saturday last, and so of course the deluge came. I am relatively certain that most of my seeds were washed away, and I will see them in the gully (sorry Timmy) or in some unsuspecting neighbors yard. I am talking something like 4 inches of rain on Sunday, ok?? A little tiny seed probably didn’t have a chance. 

In any event, it was all part of my annual effort to prove I AM NOT A PESSIMIST!!! I insist on planting, I am sure success will be mine, this time. I forget, except intellectually, what it feels like in the summer, at 103 in the front southern facing yard. I forget that the weeds are barely capable of surviving the voles/moles that are tunnelling through our entire front yard. ( I know there is a difference between the two creatures, but if I google them I will have to look at some icky creature. Its ok, thanks)

I determined after 4 years ( I AM teachable) not to spend too much money on plants, because it seems they just cant make it. I bought seeds. Except for two plants. One of which was stolen. Yep, yanked up right out of the garden a gaping hole left. It was either a vole/mole or a squirrel because they left the name tag.

 Speaking of squirrels. I am thinking of opening a spa for them, right here in my back yard. Location, location, location!  I watched a squirrel yesterday collecting seeds from the scene of the crime the day before, when he or his cohorts were caught hanging by their rear legs, and swinging their bodies up at an unnatural angle in order to stick their head into the bird feeder. The cheap bird feeder I bought when I decided we would see how the birds liked our yard, which they have promptly broken by all their acrobatics.  Well, the jury is out on the birds, but the squirrels are guilty!!! 

After said squirrel gorged himself on stolen seed, he pranced into my screened in gazebo, stood on the adirondak chair and stopped for a drink of water that had pooled on the side table. Then he proceeded to climb up onto the corner shelves of the gazebo, and stretch out for a nap under the shade of the roof.

 Ok, so WRITING. I finally have completed an outline for The Big Chill,  my fan fic in progress for over a year. It’s down to 6 songs. I know (kind of) whats going to happen in each of them!! hooray!! ( wow, I finished a thought in 3 sentences!!)

Onto quilting. Ah, quilting. My other love. I have started three (shush, you DID NOT hear that) projects. And have made headway on a fourth. I am working currently on a Wild Goose Chase made entirely of batiks and black. I have one-third of the blocks finished.

I started (although I swore I would wait)  on my Sylvia’s Bridal Sampler quilt. Two blocks so far. But there are 140. So I have some time yet to go. Eithne and Robin think they will join me on this journey.

And of course I FINALLY started on the challenge quilt Eithne proposed. I have 1 of four named blocks completed. Waiting on receipt of the other 5 block names.

And then there is the TQP challenge, 2008. Which as a challenge goes is easy. Using your initials, choose three colors and make a quilt. Wonderful. Easy-peasy. Except I designed the quilt. And then messed up the measurements and cut and stitched 24 nine patch blocks too small.  No, not really too small, just too small for me to do do the alternating block as a paper pieced block. I am ready to shoot myself after the first 2/3 of one block!!! So I re-drafted the pattern to enlarge that block to 10 inches from 6 so that I would still have hair left when I was finished.  I do have to master Paper Piecing if I expect to get through Sylvia. But — easy steps.

Joy?– Or control? What causes, in this day and age, with all of the incredibly serious, earth changing events currently at play,…. what causes someone to lose their minds over the minutiae of life? Is it because they truly DON’T have any worries?? They know of no-one suffering a great illness, or worrying whether their job is secure, or has family in Iraq, or, or, or…..

Today, a customer called me. (I custom frame art) She had brought her art BACK to me to re-paper, because the BACK of the frame was wavy, bubbly, whatever. I agreed it didn’t look awesome as far as that all went, and  was flummoxed by the adhesive not sticking. I re-did them myself this time, so I KNOW what they looked like. Mind you, the frame was great, the stitching, etc, not a single complaint on any of the 5 pieces. But she swore the ‘only’ thing she could see whenever she walked by them was the gap between the paper and the frame. (I know, WHERE are they hanging anyway?? AT what angle is she viewing them?)

Her husband picked them up the other day. We looked them over and found them acceptable. Today she got home from her vacation and called me, yelling at me, wanting to know what I could do to fix them, what kind of a guarantee did we have, what kind of materials am I using? You get the picture, right? Remember, from the front they are PERFECT. It’s not as if scraps of backing paper are sticking randomly out. It is the back. The side that faces the WALL. 

So, the question I leave you with…. is this person truly that Anal? Does she really think this is an IMPORTANT issue?  Or is her world spinning so fast off of its axis that THIS is the only thing she thinks is within her control?

Anniversary… SIX, yep count’em, SIX years ago Sunday  we got married. And we agree we are so well suited. Indeed I went out yesterday and bought Timmy a gift. You see he has recently taken up Golf.

And today, I watched as he emptied out his trunk when he got home. Yep, I stood there and watched him pull out of his trunk a golf bag. And not ANY OLD golf bag, but indeed the exact one whose twin is currently hiding in the guest room, now apparently awaiting return…

Yep, we belong together!

THE BIG CHILL…Chapter One, Strangers in the Night

This my Second FAN FICTION effort.  The characters belong to Janet Evanovich,from her Stephanie Plum series of books, if you recognize them. This is an alternate reality / and
Plum universe short series, (maybe), based loosely on the soundtrack for the movie the Big Chill. (but it has nothing at all to do with the movie!)

Strangers in the night exchanging glances
Wond’ring in the night
What were the chances we’d be sharing love
Before the night was through.
Something in your eyes was so inviting,
Something in your smile was so exciting,
Something in my heart,
Told me I must have you.
Strangers in the night, two lonely people
We were strangers in the night
Up to the moment
When we said our first hello.
Little did we know
Love was just a glance away,
A warm embracing dance away and -
Ever since that night we’ve been together.
Lovers at first sight, in love forever.
It turned out so right,
For strangers in the night.
Charles Singleton and Eddie SnyderI skid to a stop at the curb of the Performing Arts Center, and swung the door to my black Jag open. The valet, a bow tied kid of maybe twenty or so couldn’t wipe the drool from his mouth fast enough as I slipped myself from the car and handed him my keys. I walked around to the passenger door, and played the gallant knight, opening the door and holding out my hand to
Marina.  She could always stop traffic,
Marina could; and tonight was no exception.
 
It was almost nine pm; the sun had only just gone down on this, the first day of summer. We were here for The Summer Solstice Gala, whatever the hell that was supposed to mean. The night air was sultry; it hung heavy and thick. No surprise there, humidity and
New Jersey go hand in hand. You would of course never know this by looking at
Marina. She took my hand, smiled up at me, and swung her legs out in a graceful movement. The slit up the side of her skirt was almost indecent.
 Her gown was the color of the sunset, with a flaming orange skirt that slowly turned fiery red by the time it reached the top of the plunging neckline which was edged with glittering crystals. She looked crisp, and sparkling; cool and collected, as always. It was no surprise to me that she was one of the best neurosurgeons in the tri-state area.  

No, truth be told, she looked hot, on fire; but I guess she knew that too, based on the confident smile she boasted. Her hair was piled high, in some type of knot, that looked artful and happenstance all at once. I knew she had spent at least an hour having it arranged just so. Her skin was glowing and tanned, as if she needed enhancement to her rich mocha colored skin. With her make-up done as it was she looked exotic and alluring; as far away from the seriousness and precision of an operating room as one could get. My tuxedo, on the other hand, felt like a sweat drenched rag. I hated the thing on a cool night; dressing up wasn’t really my idea of fun. But I had promised I would escort her, as I was proud of her accomplishments, loved her for all she was worth and was, by all accounts, stuck in
Trenton for another six weeks.
 

She took the arm I offered her, and squeezed it with gratitude.  I knew we made quite the couple as we approached the entrance to the ballroom. We had been this route before, Marina and I, and we knew the roles we played. Neither of us cared for the game, but we played it well; too often for my taste, but we were successful. And that, she would remind me in the morning, as I regaled to her the horrors of the night just past, is how the game is played, little brother.  The music was too loud, and the scents of extravagant floral displays and too many perfumes competed with the distasteful aroma of another rubber chicken meal.  The room was overfilled with patrons of the arts, matronly woman trolling the tables for men like me; (my sister called me eye candy!) philanthropists and the hoi-polloi. 


Marina was whisked away by someone from the hospital almost immediately. She was off to do her thing, and chat it up with strangers; laughing and making it seem like it was their own idea to hand over a generous check to the Center for Brain Studies. She was good at this; this schmoozing, stupid bullshit. Ask the damn man to donate the money and save us from nights like these, I groaned. 
 I would prefer hand to hand combat in darkest Africa over being pawed over by outdated, dried up, disillusioned society wives who would undoubtedly swarm around me all night long. At first they will pretend fascination at my sister’s astonishing career and success, and slowly, as they imbibe more alcohol they will begin to oh so indiscreetly proposition me, the handsome bachelor. They will worry over me and my lack of female companionship, and will twitter behind their hands at how they want to run their fingers through my hair, comment to one another on the shape of my ass, or breathlessly ask how many people have I killed; all to the end that they hope I will grace them with my presence in their bed.  

Oh, anywhere else right now, indeed. I looked again at Marina. Her smile could stop time. Her laughter was like angels singing. I guess I better get moving along myself; it’s a damn good thing I love her. And owe her my own life.  ====Tonight is game three of a good series between the Mets and the Red Sox, ya know? Mets are gonna go all the way this year, I can feel it. And yet, here I am, at another stupid fund-raiser, just so Dickie can be seen by all the right people. Damn stupid people. I mean, I guess I can’t complain right? Free liquor, another new dress and a nice day at the spa….oh, if only Dickie would lavish that kind of attention on me for me, instead of to impress other people.                                                                                                                                 His boss’s wife had asked we attend; this brain thing was a pet charity of hers, and she wanted us to be there. No expense was spared making me look hot and sexy, like Dickie felt I should look; and we arrived in his fully loaded Lexus.  All window dressing.  I drove a beater, because I couldn’t afford anything more; I had to put my extra money towards the wedding that my mother and Dickie wanted us to have, to celebrate in the style he would like to become accustomed. Argh.  

Of course, my parent’s couldn’t afford that kind of wedding. Valerie had only gotten married two years ago, and my dad was still paying it off. And Dickie, well, go figure; there’s the one thing he wants to be traditional about. I live with him, we have sex, but the bride’s family (in this case, little ol’ me) should pay for the whole wedding. And don’t get me wrong. I want a gorgeous wedding too. What girl born and raised in Chambersburg, New Jersey doesn’t? It’s the lullaby sung to us at night, for chrissakes! But the entire wedding industry is currently on my shit list.  Every blasted thing that has the word bride or groom attached to it has its price jacked up like crazy.  

And the food tonight sucked. Two big ones for this nasty chicken dinner? I was glad I ate before I left. That made Dickie happy, because I left so much on my plate. Everyone saw what a dainty eater I was. It showed I cared about my figure. Score another one for Dickie Orr, he sure found himself a winner.  Yeah right. I just preferred to eat real food, ya know? After I listlessly nibbled at my dinner, we danced. I was wearing my ‘last years Vera Wang great deal but I can say it’s a Vera Wang’ dress, and really cute FMP’s. Dickie does share my interest in FMP’s; I am never lacking in the shoe department. I liked this pair because I could squash his foot with the heel ‘accidentally’ when he stepped on my toes. If he tries to dance without counting time, he always misses a step and there goes my pedicure. Ballroom lessons have at least prevented things like broken toes.  

My fiancé is what is generously called light skinned. In actuality is skin tone is similar to mine, but on a woman it’s called porcelain and is desirable, but for a guy he’s a bit pasty. His brown hair is thick and wavy, and he’s considered generally handsome, I suppose. I guess I am supposed to be biased, because he is mine. I see other women looking him over as we dance, so yeah, I guess he’s the catch of the year, or the day, or something. His tux was tight in all the right places, and he does look the part of the successful lawyer. Here’s hoping! He’s just my height when I’m in heels, and I guess we have a nice look about us together. It was no surprise to anyone when we announced our engagement; so really, all in all we are good together.  And he must envision future little Orr’s or something, because he wants to marry me, Stephanie Plum, whose mother had long ago given up hope of teaching me the finer arts of being a housewife. Not for lack of trying. But once I’d set a few toaster ovens on fire and the motor of the blender was burned out, even Mom thought I should just aim high on the income scale and hope for a housekeeper.  If Dickie can make partner, I may just get mom’s wish! So, being the dutiful fiancée who dreams of a life larger than the waxy buildup on the kitchen floor, you can guess I am motivated to dance with all of Dickie’s employers; heck I’ll dance with anyone who will assist me in my desire to escape lifelong drudgery.====Tonight was dragging.  Even for a fundraiser it was a long night. When I mentioned it to Marina, she laughed at me and told me to go find someone to play with.  So, here I am, standing, waiting in the lobby, eyeing all the ladies as they move to and fro, and trying to find someone to entertain me. Hey, it was her idea!  

Intrigued?? Interested in finding out what happens NEXT???  Go here.