Monday, November 11, 2013

Confessions of a British TV Junkie

or should I say, "a junkie of British TV" since I am technically not British?

1.  I was actually annoyed that both Sherlock and Watson were devoting precious time to other projects.

Great film, but NO

2.  I always get excited when Foyle knows who did it before anyone else even has a clue, or before the person in question actually did it or knew they were going to do it.

Foyle's War

3.  I revisit past seasons of Merlin and get angry because Arthur has NO IDEA!!!

4.  I never get tired of this show, in spite of the odd British pop culture references and the excessively ridiculous chocolate consumption.  

5.  I was seriously offended when someone once mentioned that Lark Rise to Candleford made them sleepy!
This show is EPIC!!!

6.  I detest SyFy for not only copying Being Human, but doing so in a traumatically mediocre fashion.

BBC version of "Being Human" = amazing

7.  I feel like I know this guy, as he seems to appear in approximately 80% of BBC productions. 

Smallweed -- Bleak House

8.  This show makes me laugh more than it should.

9.  I actually watched every episode of Cranford (including Return to Cranford) while crocheting.  I should be 80 years old.  

10.  I have January 5, 2014 marked on my Google calendar.  

and there's this...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lost in the Woods part II or "Some Who Wander Actually ARE Lost"

continuing from Lost in the Woods part I...

So, at this point I was delirious.  It was almost dark, we could barely see, and all we had was a small wind up flashlight.  For some reason, winding that flashlight kept me going.  Eventually we got back to the camp of college guys.  I actually scared them because they could see this crazy woman in the dark with wild hair streaming in the wind, coming at them rapidly.  "You were just moving SO fast!" they said, slightly alarmed.  While they were chatting with my husband, kindly offering campsite shelter and food, I was already climbing the next mountain.  All I could think of was my kids and worried family, I was not about to set up camp.  

My poor husband was frightened, more so by me than the situation.  I was usually way ahead of him, fueled by terror and determination, and at one point he noticed me walking right past a bear while cursing the entire wilderness area and screaming at the sharp rocks in the rugged "path."  Apparently this large dark bear just froze in my presence and after I was several yards away, retreated into the nearby forest.   I still feel bad about cursing the wilderness area.  

It's funny how the mind works when you are in a histrionic state.  Rationally, I should have been afraid of stepping on snakes, running into bears, breaking my ankle on those awful trails... but no.  I was not afraid of those things!  My greatest fear was being on that trail forever.  It would never end, we would be there from now on and nobody would ever see us again except for that man telling us we were off the map!  I wanted the trail to end.  I was in a mumbling stage at this point, winding the flashlight and moving forward.   

It was 1 AM when we finally reached an area with a cell phone signal and started making our way down a steep ski slope.  My in-laws had already contacted the local police but at that point we had them call off the search.  We finally knew where we were.  Ski slopes seem more slippery in the summer when they are covered in mud and gravel, especially in the dark.  I had bruises in places I dare not mention and my ankles were throbbing from repeatedly stumbling in the dark. Regardless, we were on a definite path home.  My father-in-law met us at the bottom of the slope and we were back at the cabin around 2 AM.

The next morning I was at a nearby coffee shop in Davis, WV.  It was a rugged scene, the baristas were dressed as if they engaged in rock climbing during their lunch breaks and the air was filled with the smell of coffee and mud, along with adventurous conversations.  There were more mountain bikes outside than cars and I felt like an outsider in their ruggedly cool world.  "You from here?" I was asked.  Eventually I came out with it.  "We were lost in the wilderness for over 12 hours yesterday!"  All of a sudden, I was one of them!  Rugged people were surrounding me, asking questions, sharing similar stories, guys with beards nodded with respect and admiration for my survival skills.  I left out the screaming/mumbling part of the adventure.  Then I realized my husband and kids were waiting in the car so I gathered my coffees and said my goodbyes.  

While we were lost, I cursed Dolly Sods and decreed to the wilderness that I would never... ever... return.  EVER!   A few days later, I was going through all the amazing photos I captured in this beautiful wilderness.   I will return there someday, obviously better equipped and mentally prepared for the true meaning of the word "adventure."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Magical Universe at the Woodstock Film Festival

After watching Magical Universe dozens and dozens of times while scoring the film, I finally had the pleasure of seeing it on the big screen at the Woodstock Film Festival!  It was wonderful to view it with the filmmaker, Jeremy Workman, and enjoy not only the film itself, but the response of the audience.  I am happy to say that Magical Universe won the AUDIENCE AWARD for BEST DOCUMENTARY (tied with American Revolutionary) and HONORABLE MENTION for BEST DOCUMENTARY JURY PRIZE at the festival!

By the way, that's Jeremy's photo down there, but that wasn't taken at the film festival.  I stole that photo from one of his websites, totally not a Woodstock background.

Jeremy Workman, filmmaker, two-time Emmy nominee
The response from the audience was amazing and it was an incredible experience, just being there.

This is my first film score.  I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to do this, not only score a film but a film that I feel so good about.  Please visit the Magical Universe website to see if it will be playing in your area!

photo from Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lost in the Woods part I

Some of my favorite forest photos are from the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia.  I had my nice camera, my nice hiking shoes, and my nice husband who happened to have a nice topographic map, and we set out one early afternoon around 1 PM for a nice hike.  Within the first 30 minutes we realized that this was not going to be a "clean" hike.  Other than being covered in mud from slick, wet paths (ski slope trails in the summer), we found that many of the trails were not marked and made quite a few circles around the ski slope trails before we finally got to the entrance of the wilderness.

In spite of the minor obstacles, we were truly enjoying our little hike.  The weather was cooperating relatively well and the surroundings were absolutely breathtaking!  A few hours went by quickly as we witnessed amazing changes in terrain, foliage, and biomes.  We laughed at a delightful, yet feisty little snake, picked a few wild blueberries, and fondly talked about the bears in the area and how they must enjoy such delicious blueberries.  

Two more hours went by as we hiked along, still enamored with our surroundings but less enchanted by the lack of signs and marked trails.  In fact, after the big sign at the entrance, we only saw one other sign.  Occasionally we saw a weird rock pile, sort of a totem indicating that the trail was of some importance.  Or perhaps someone was just really bored.  In addition to being poorly marked, the trails also had a tendency to turn into nothing more than streams, weeds, and piles of rocks.  Regardless, we kept getting out the topographic map to plan how to get back to the entrance.  It was getting late and we were tired, hungry, and wanted to get back to our cabin with the rest of our family.  

We ran into very few humans during our hike.  The first small group was at the entrance picking blueberries and riding horses.  The next group we encountered hours later at a campsite, a group of college guys in some wilderness-related club.  The third person we encountered around 8 PM, cooking over a campfire and seeming quite confident in his wilderness skills, appropriately dressed with just enough gear to look experienced but not going overboard.  When we asked if we were going in the right direction, he kindly gave us the facts.  NO.

WE WERE WAY OFF THE TRAIL AND THE MAP!  There were 2 ways to get back to the entrance.  The first option was to simply backtrack the way we came.  Of course, there was nothing simple about hiking 4 hours back over a series of trails that led us into oblivion.   The second option was to keep going and climb the mountain ahead.  It was a shorter route but well known for being stocked with many bears.

My husband looked over at me to get my opinion and discovered that I was no longer there.  I was already on the trail heading back the way we came, moving forward at warp speed with determination to get back to our cabin.   We had no cell phone reception so our family had no idea what had happened.  Having packed our bags for a "day hike," we were almost out of water, completely out of snacks, and in my case, totally out of patience.   I was going to walk and walk and walk in the dark until I got home.  I wanted to see my children!

To be continued... see Lost in the Woods part II aka Some Who Wander Actually ARE Lost

Monday, September 9, 2013

Speak, Little Friend, and Enter

September in central Virginia means slightly cooler days, a little less humidity, and at times, fewer mosquitos.  This inspires me to be a little more productive outside, pulling weeds, planting winter vegetables (hopefully the bunnies will not confiscate the entire lot), and engaging in practical activities such as transforming our trees into little gnome homes.  

I wish I could say that I used all found objects to make this little abode, but I did not.  I went to Michael's, originally seeking yarn.  One does not simply walk into Michael's.  Its sliding gates lead to more than just yarn.  Anyway, you get the idea.  There is a section with a bunch of wooden thingies, precut in every shape you can imagine.  I also picked up some Martha Stewart glow-in-the-dark paint, but so far the glowing effect hasn't impressed me.  Of course, I added white to the yellow paint because I wanted the glowing windows to look quaint and cozy, like a warm fire is crackling inside, not a toxic waste spill.  If I had used the paint straight out of the bottle and layered several coats, perhaps I would have glowing windows.  
Bunnies Triangulating
Naturally, I could not stop at one.  In several weeks I hope to have a bountiful crop of broccoli, kale, onions, garlic, and gnome homes.  More than likely, we will have a bountiful crop of ravenous bunnies.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Strings and Stitches part II

See Strings and Stitches part I.
I still stink at sewing bodices that fit and using a sewing pattern is not my cup of tea.  However, I have discovered that I can CROCHET bodices much better than I can cut and sew!  This has taken my dressmaking skills to a whole new level of the Molly Weasley school of stitching!

I love these basic dresses for summer, especially to wear over top of a swimsuit.  They dry easily on a hot day!  You can even leave them out for winter with a turtleneck and some cute leggings.

I'm horrible at writing patterns, but honestly all you need to do is single stitch crochet and keep a child nearby for measuring.  I use cotton yarn, so I make sure it's a little snug because it will stretch some with wear.  If you need a pattern, I looked up a few for you on Ravelry...
Beautiful Red Dress
Kindergarten Dress
How to Crochet a Child's Dress

Along the bottom of the bodice, I usually do a small shell stitch and along the top and the sides of the straps, popcorn stitches.  Most popcorn patterns call for 5 double crochet stitches, but I make a more petite edging for these by using 4 half double crochet stitches.

I have actually washed these and they held up, but remember cotton yarn is going to fade a little.  If you are going for rich, bold colors, you may want to look for another fiber.

Spending less time worrying about the exact cut and stitching of the bodice allows me to be more creative and experiment with the skirt (see "hobbit dress" below).  I actually used wool yarn for this bodice because I knew it would be worn over top of a blouse in October.   After this photo was taken, I took the straps up a bit because, well... they needed it.

I did not make the bunny (lamb) costume!

Notice the "furry" hobbit feet!

Of course, crochet works beautifully with tulle!  

 For very basic and amateur instructions, see How To Make a Butterfly Fairy Dress.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Gothic Horror

 Something wicked this way comes...
Scarlet Grove print with quote

Sleepy Hollow stemless wine glasses

Ichabod ornament

Sleepy Hollow print

Crimson scarf
Edgar pilsner glasses

These can be unearthed in my Etsy shop.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Magical Project

Composing music is a passion for me and having a genuine excuse to compose is exhilarating! Recently, I had the opportunity to score the music for an intriguing documentary by Jeremy Workman, Magical Universe.

Ironically, I met Jeremy in 2012 when he was making a holiday video for Etsy featuring wreaths.  I had a wreath in my shop and he was interested in using it in the video.  I sent him some images of wreaths and happened to mention that I compose music if he needed any for the project.  After hearing some samples, he asked me to create a few cues for the video, which I gladly obliged.  He mentioned something about a long term project featuring an artist who took photos of Barbie dolls.  I thought that sounded a bit odd, but I was impressed with Jeremy's work and figured it must be something pretty cool.  A few months went by and I figured Jeremy had forgotten about me, then one day I received an e-mail from him opening with "I have a weird question for you!"  

I was eager to preview the film and jump right in.  When I first watched, I had to pause the film a couple of times to process what was going on.  It wasn't because the film itself was hard to follow, on the contrary, it's elegantly rendered and captivating!  Without giving too much away, I was awed in the end with what Jeremy had accomplished in this film.  It is truly beautiful and it deserved a beautiful score.
An excerpt from the film's website...

MAGICAL UNIVERSE is a portrait of Albert Nickerson Carbee -- an elderly, eccentric artist living in a ramshackle converted barn in the fading town of Saco, Maine.  Al spends each and every day alone in his cavernous home creating elaborate photographs and collage art -- most of which feature Barbie Dolls in provocative yet complex dioramas.  Few have seen Al's unique art. Even fewer have met Al himself.
When New York filmmaker Jeremy Workman and his girlfriend Astrid arrive on Al’s doorstep for an unplanned visit in the late 1990’s, the stage is set for the beginning of a strange and wondrous decade-long friendship between Al and Jeremy, an unlikely pairing in which the filmmaker goes on to become the reclusive Carbee's closest friend and his only link to the outside world.
MAGICAL UNIVERSE is a feature-length documentary about Carbee's amazing body of work and his relentlessly creative lifestyle. Its story is explored through the prism of Al’s strange but intensely devoted friendship with Jeremy and Astrid, with whom his bond is just as passionate as the one he has made with his art.
Something like a cross between the Henry Darger documentary "In the Realms of The Unreal" and a first-person documentary, MAGICAL UNIVERSE is, at its core about wonder, friendship, and the transcendent power of creativity. The film culminates with Al Carbee's greatest triumph as an artist and a man: the day when Carbee's Barbies are briefly revealed to the world.

All photos are from the film's website and facebook page.

Magical Universe from Wheelhouse Creative on Vimeo.

Read about Jeremy Workman.
Magical Universe website
Magical Universe on facebook

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Has Sprung... Almost

 Who can resist the pageantry of spring?  Even as the cruelty of daylight saving time sets in at 6:15 AM, I cannot help but smile at the pale pink blossoms and the sweet bird sounds as I look out my bedroom window.

Of course, Monday I looked out to see THIS...

Yep, it's officially snowing!
At least school was canceled and I could go back to bed... for 3 minutes.  Naturally the kids woke up and there's no sleeping when the outside world is an enchanted winter fairy tale.  

Regardless, spring must go on!   While the world was frozen and white outside, I painted and photographed these wine glasses, hoping the snow-covered pink blossoms outside would be okay.

I am really into crocheting accessories lately, so I had to transition from warm winter hoods to spring bonnets, purses, and practical things...

May your spring be full of blossoms and and practical delights!