Sunday, December 23, 2007

Show Biz!


Pamela, wearing her new Colonial gown I designed specially for the Christmas Carol


My daughter is involved with the Sam Bass theatre youth guild, and has just completed her second production this year -- Theseus and the Minotaur and A Christmas Carol. What's really neat about her involvement with the theatre is that she had grown up on stage. My first involvement with the theatre was over 8 years ago, where I had performed in several productions and had stage managed.

Pamela spent many a time during my rehearsals crawling around the theatre floor, climbing over the props, and getting into mischief in the dressing room. Her big brother Josh had also been in some productions. This year was extra special, as several years back, Josh too had performed in, A Christmas Carol.

I took a few years hiatus from the theatre scene, and decided to focus more on my writing. It was during this time I decided I really didn't like being "on" stage, but preferred being "behind the scenes"... I think this is why my interest has been rechanneled into screenwriting, and directing.

I also don't have pleasant memories of my experience doing a television commercial. HOT glaring lights, the button popping off my top, and my daughter at 2 weeks old (the star of the show) screaming her head off. On top of that, just before the commercial went into production, she got a horrible case of cradle cap! This is an unsightly dermatological scaly rash that appears on the head of babies. Sooo, while shooting the commercial, I opted for a cute white baby bonnet to cover my daughter’s head. It was one shoot and retake after another trying to get my daughter to stop crying so the commercial could be shot!

But worse of all... (gulp) MY part had no script! It was all ad lib. My dialogue consisted of, "Uhh... so... I like Dr. uhh... great doctor... good delivery… I highly recommend seeing her for, uhhh..."

Sweat pouring from brow, conscious of my opened blouse, pizza fumes wafting from the adjoining room, glaring lights hanging overhead and a camera shoved in my face, and I’m stuttering like a total idiot.

No thank you let me stand behind the camera. I'll even be nice and provide a script!

So, I was shocked when my daughter asked to join the theatre scene. Normally she’s shy by nature, but on stage, she’s transformed! Who knows what may come of her newfound interest. I’m no stage mom by any stretch of an imagination. If anything, I’m guilty of trying to talk her OUT of auditioning for plays!

But, as any homeschooler will attest, we homeschoolers tend to look for educational benefits out of EVERYTHING we do!

Friday, December 21, 2007

FASHION - Bratz Paris!



One particular customer was creating a Dolls Around the World scrapbook for her granddaughter. She purchased NUMEROUS gowns from me. It was during a time when I was designing for a different country every week- Italy, France, Germany, England, Mediterranean, etc... This particular gown represented Paris. I am especially fond of decorating with flora and beads!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

FASHION - Red Velvet!

Velvet gowns, and mock sleeves are always a big hit. American Model is sporting a removable Corsage.
Tyler is adorned with a generous wrap-around pearl necklace.

The Beast!



This story was written at the height of our frustation while living in "Vietnam"... (See story, The Letter, for explanation.)


THE BEAST


The first time that I saw him, I thought he was the devil incarnate. No really, I’m serious. It was his eyes. They were this intimidating shade of brown with lots of gold and fire in them. They were piercing, intense and watchful. He had a combination of black and gray at his temples. He was really quite handsome. For a second he flashed his pearly whites at me. I glanced appreciatively at his massive frame, he looked big, powerful and strong. The lady beside me nodded her head. I approached cautiously with my hand extended. He warily regarded me for a second, his eyes flicking with interest. Finally he leaned forward, sniffed, and quickly licked at my finger.

“Are you sure he don’t bite?”

The lady laughed, “I know what you’re thinking. He’s big and intimidating, but I promise you he’s a pussycat!”

This time he was licking my fingers with more gusto. I pulled my hand away and patted him on the head.

“Is he Doberman mixed?”

“No, actually he’s part Rotwieler and German shepherd.”

“Wow,” I marveled as I scratched him behind the ears, “and his name?”

“Bruno.”

“Great name, it fits him!” Bruno was all but lapping at my feet now. The lady was waiting expectantly. I hesitated a second longer, careful to not stare into Bruno’s penetrating gaze. My mind quickly rewound like a videocassette and I distastefully recalled the events of the previous week, the broken bedroom window, the stolen stereo system, and the missing penny jar. The creep even had the nerve to swipe razors and deodorant from the bathroom sink! My cheeks warmed at the memory and I could feel my blood beginning to boil.

“I’ll take him!” I said more firmly than I felt.

Bruno came into my life with an opened 10-pound bag of dog chow, a food dish, a collar, leash, and another enthusiastic reminder from the lady that he was as soft as a butterfly.

My husband later met us at the door with a questioning glance, “are you sure?”

“What do we have to lose?” I flippantly remarked, “and besides, he was FREE!”

Bruno warily sniffed around his new home while I situated the dog dish on the kitchen floor and fetched him some water. Every so often I would find the cool moist nudge of Bruno’s nose as he continued to return to my side, nudging at my hands. I patted him on the head, careful to not stare into his eyes.

That evening we left Bruno to lick and scratch himself on the living room rug as we headed for bed.

I awoke to the crack of thunder. The room was dark and from the occasional glimmers of lightening, I could faintly make out the shadow of Bruno standing at the side of my bed. He was whimpering and acting very agitated. For a second his presence stunned me as I foggily tried to recall if we owned a dog or not. Bruno placed his paw on the mattress and licked at my arms. I brushed him away as another crack of thunder lit the room. This time Bruno yelped and before I had a chance to recover, he leaped into the bed. With horror, I realized that his shaking claws were digging into the mattress of our waterbed. With the help of my husband, we tried to push Bruno off the bed, but Bruno would not budge. Finally in desperation, we dragged his quivering frame off to the side by the cuff of his collar. As soon as his claws hit the carpet, and our defenses were down, Bruno was back in between us again. Finally we had to drag his yelping and quivering frame into another room and closed the door.

The following morning, I opened Bruno’s door. The room was in shambles. The carpet directly underneath the door was shredded all the way down to the padding. I stared down at the walnut floor that had been excavated. White puffs of cotton drew my gaze towards the spare bed. I realized that the pillows had been shaken and tossed about, missing their contents. With a loud gasp, I realized that my antique Raggedy Ann doll was totally decapitated. The light drew my attention to the window and I realized that Bruno had yanked the curtains from off their rods. The sun streamed into the room, revealing every one of Bruno’s very naughty deeds. A steady pounding drew my eyes to the corner of the room. I met the sullen gaze of Bruno. His tail was flicking up and down against the floor. Thump! Thump!

Furiously that day I went about cleaning up the damage and made a mental note to assign Bruno outdoor duty. I figured he would be happiest, running the length of our fenced yard, enjoying the fresh cool air and possibly sharing a few intimate barks with the neighborhood pooches. But unfortunately we soon learned that Bruno was not going to play ball. After several trips to the dog pound, the hefty fines and endless nailing and re-mending our fast deteriorating fence, we resorted to bringing Bruno back into the house again. Bruno happily found himself another corner and began to lick himself.

Thankfully there had been no thunderstorms as of late, and things settled into a routine, but one day in particular, Bruno decided that he didn’t want to stay at home. Faster than the speed of light, Bruno leaped past me as I opened the front door, skittered past the gate and literally flew into the opened window of my car. I huffed over to the car, demanding that Bruno please return to the house. Bruno wouldn’t budge. He flicked his tail at me for a second and stared straight ahead. Finally after much pleading and coaxing, I opened the door and grabbed at his collar. Bruno was a dead weight as I tugged and pulled. I glanced at my watch. Finally in exasperation, I stomped back into the house and returned holding a slice of bologna.

“Come on, Bruno, that-a-boy! Come on Bruno, want something to eat? Bruno, look here! See the food? Mmmmm, it smells good. Look Bruno, see? Doesn’t it look good?” I was waving the bologna in front of his eyes. Bruno still would not budge.

“Come on boy, come on! BRUNO!” With as much sweetness as I could muster, I planted a plastic smile over my face. “Com’n Bruno, you’re a good boy! You’re soooo sweeet!” I was beginning to make myself sick. “Come on Bruno, have some meat!” I was flapping the bologna around so hard, part of it flopped apart and landed at my feet.” Bruno’s eyes darted to where it landed, licked his lips, thumped his tail, but still would not budge. I quickly glanced at my watch. “BRUNO! Get your butt out of that car! Com’n Bruno!” Perspiration was pouring from my brow.

Finally, with a big huff, I stomped back into the house, deliberately leaving the door wide open, pretending to “stay at home.” A few moments later, Bruno, taking the bait, returned into the house. I smiled at him through gritted teeth, tempted to snatch the bologna back from his food dish. I wanted to ring his flea-collar neck. As he lapped up what was left of his bologna, I sneakily dashed from the house, slamming the door.

I was furious and out of breath but I was also smug with myself for outsmarting a dog!

The engine of the car roared to life and I tore out of the driveway with barely a backwards glance.

Oh, I was probably gone about an hour or so. I purred into the driveway and noticed immediately that something was wrong. The front windows were looking strange. It wasn’t until I made my way towards the door that I realized that it was the mini-blinds that were looking peculiar. With a sense of dread, I cautiously opened the door and immediately noticed an upturned can of tuna clinking to the side. With a crunch, my foot smashed into an eggshell. My mouth must have dropped past my knees as the door swung wider. Trash was scattered all about the floor. There was half a core of an apple, some torn boxes, and shreds of newspaper scattered about. I gulped as I recognized leftover spaghetti and tomato sauce, strung in smeared heaps over the living room rug. With horror I realized that half the contents of my bookshelf was lying in a pile. The shelf itself looked like it had possibly wobbled back and forth before balancing back into place.

With a cry of shock, I stared down at the television set. It was lying face down on the floor at the foot of the stand. The cord of the television was stretched to its limit, barely attached to the wall.

My eyes stared unbelievingly at the curtains. They were hanging in shreds, ripped in strips and barely attached to their rods. The mini-blinds were torn and missing sections and barely hung by a cord. Both of my throw pillows were ripped, their guts, tumbling out in clouds of white puffs. I stopped dead in my tracks. Ohhhh nooooo! There in the corner was a big pile of (gag) NO-NO!

My mouth was still gaping open. Bruno didn’t bother to rise to his feet. He slithered towards me on his belly like a snake. He inched closer, and closer, his eyes sad and pleading. He kept searching me with his eyes.

He stopped at my feet and his tail began to thump. Drooping his eyes, he lifted his paw as if to say, OOPS!

FASHION - Leopard Wild!



This is a two-piece skirt/top set with handbag, jewels, and sandals!

I had made myself a long skirt and had enough scraps to make my daughter a skirt and the doll this outfit.

One day my daughter and I were walking through the mall parking lot. A female security guard kept driving past us in her truck. After a moment she stopped and yelled, "excuse me miss!" I looked up and wondered what we had done wrong.

She smiled broadly and exclaimed, "I just HAD to let you know that I think you two look wonderful together in those matching skirts!"

I enjoy creating matching fashions for girls and their dolls, but rarely do I see mother's and daughters wearing matching outfits. Not sure if I enjoy the extra attention!

FASHION - Midnight Rose!



This ensemble was very easy to make. A simple skirt and halter top. I was really inspired by the sparkling confetti fabric.

FASHION - Monet American!



I'm sure this fabric would have impressed Monet himself!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

FASHION - Cissy Elegance!



Here's my Madam Alexander Cissy. She's able to share SOME clothes with the American Model. This gown is a stunning rose embroidery. This ensemble comes with gloves, belt, fully lined purse, jewelry and a removable corsage!

I very rarely use patterns on my creations, but will cut and sew as I go along. I have to remind myself to draft patterns from my ideas for another time!

FASHION - I Love Hawaii!



Of course, I couldn't resist giving Ellowyne a trip to Waikiki!

FASHION - Sophistication!



I designed for Ellowyne a sparkling black cocktail gown! Perhaps I should have modeled her against a sleek black piano, but I couldn't resist those tropical cocktails! I'd like a Mai Tai, please?

FASHION - Glam in Australia!



This picture was submitted by a customer of mine from Australia. Her beautiful Dollfie is modeling one of my sparkling red evening gowns. I just LOVE how she uses props for her dolls. We are having too much fun, aren't we?

FASHION - Boho!






This is a very retro boho ensemble I had created for American Model. Lots of beadwork and attention to detail. The shoes and the "bone" necklace were made from polymer clay.

FASHION - Tyler in Style!



This particular Tyler is one of my favorite models. She's wearing a velvet wine gown with handsewn beads and sequins. I just love how her dark complexion brings out her stunning blue eyes!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

FASHION - Ellowyne "Wild" not Wilde!



This is definitely on the wild side! Colorful and quite different. Ellowyne is fun to sew for. You can design serious, whimsical, or just plain silly.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

FASHION - Tonner Himself!


This picture was sent by a customer of mine. She had the good fortune of meeting Robert Tonner in person! I've been invited to fly to Chicago so we could visit the next doll show together!

Here's a list of dolls I have in my collection so far:

* Madam Alexander Cissy
* Tiny Kitty
* Kitty Collier
* Gene Ashton Drake
* American Model
* Ellowyne Wilde
* Fashion Royalty
* Tyler Wentworth
* Silkstone Barbie
* American Girl
* My Size Barbie
* My Scene Barbie
* Kelly
* Barbie
* Skipper
* Ken
* Bratz

WISH LIST: Dollfies of all sizes

I must confess... I'm not a typical "doll collector"... Even though I design elaborate clothing for dolls - MY dolls are standing naked!

I have received MANY a raised eyebrow by unsuspecting visitors! What gives with all these naked dolls? They must think.

Perhaps I will sit down after the holidays and finally DRESS UP my dolls...

New year's resolution for 2008!

1.) DRESS MY DOLLS!

FASHION - Cat's Meow


Retro pink and ready for the runway! Tonner's AMERICAN MODEL is one of my favorite fashion dolls! This beauty stands 22" tall.

I especially enjoy creating tiny accessories - gloves, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, beadwork, and exquisite fully-lined purses! I have 3 sewing machines, 2 sergers, and yet I MUCH prefer sewing by hand!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

FASHION - Colonial 1700


This month I've made 4 Colonial gowns and I'm working on my 5th! The dress is already cut out and ready to be sewn. By golly, I'm getting faster and faster at this. I'm my own Chinese sweat shop!

The gown pictured is the first Colonial Gown I ever made. What's lacking is a HOOP PETTICOAT! *SIGH*

FASHION - Heavenly!


Sometimes I'm inspired by the background pictures I use, before creating the designs I sell. THANK YOU Photoshop 7!!!

FASHION - Executive Chic!


This is an outfit I had designed for the Tonner fashion doll, Ellowyne Wilde. The deep vibrant colors of the fabric had inspired me to create something chic and professional.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Day in Pearl Harbor

I wrote this several years ago in remembrance to my experience as a tour guide for the USS Arizona.

"Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Pearl Harbor. Today you're not only a guest of the United States Navy, but also the National Park Service."

I clutched my microphone and steadied my sea legs as the tour boat bounced and swayed. All eyes were focused on the starboard side of the boat, soaking in the beauty of the Island. Just up ahead was the USS Arizona Memorial. The arched white infrastructure loomed closer as our boat clipped and speared through the massive waves.

"Ladies and gentlemen, what actually hit and sank the Arizona was a 1,760 pound armored piercing delayed action bomb that lodged in the aviation fuel storage area, causing such a tremendous chain of explosions that the ship sank in less than 9 minutes!”

I watched the reaction of the civilians as they absorbed this information. Some of my passengers were war veterans, nodding their heads and drinking in the sights. The creases on their foreheads marking the fifty-odd years that spanned since their battles. Pools of memories reflecting from their eyes and the pride from the corners of their mouths as Old Glory swished and swayed from the stern of the boat.

All eyes were upon me as I announced that fateful day when the Arizona sank. The entombment of all those brave men, the fathers, sons, and brothers. I had probably done hundreds of those tours for the Navy, yet I had never come to grips with the realization that I was walking on a grave of a thousand souls.

"Ladies and gentlemen, if you will please remain seated until the boat is secure..."

A short man at the back of the boat was snapping pictures rapidly from his camera. I watched his jet-black hair fan against the wind, and I fought back the prejudice that rose from my throat. How I wanted to reprimand him for stepping foot on MY boat. To ride free on our American tax paid dollars to what? Gloat? What irony it was for him to be allowed to even SEE the Arizona. After all, it was the Japanese that sank our ship, shattering so many dreams and wounding our servicemen and pride. Just the other day, we had to haul off some Japanese tourists that were mocking our flag.

I escorted my passengers onto the dock and watched as they entered the memorial. Cameras began clicking. It was a motley crew of a group. Men in straw hats and Hawaiian floral shirts, probably their first visit to the islands. There were women and cranky children, anxious to stretch their legs and to run for the open space. There were sweet old ladies who wanted to touch my uniform with their hands and to exclaim about how unique it was, that there were women in the Navy. I smiled politely and repositioned my beret.

One lady was in total awe. With amazement her eyes scanned upward at the 184-foot memorial structure and said, “WOW! What part of the ship is this?”

A teenager asked, “Where are the glass elevators that lead to the bottom?”

"Yes sir, the ship is still leaking oil." I confirmed the man's inquiry as we both peered intently over the rail. The rainbow swirls and geometrical patterns floated and bobbed as the waves rocked the pier.

I directed my finger at the ship's tubular mast. A group of passengers were huddling closer as I pointed out the shapes that were casting shadows from below.

One passenger was asking about the beach area. "You are looking at Ford Island." I replied.

It was time to go and I ushered the passengers out of the memorial. Some were still scattered and hesitant to go. I watched the strays that were standing at the wall, reading the names of the dead aloud...searching. The Japanese couple were standing at the railing and peering out at the sea. The man turned and faced me. I stared in wonder at the tears on his cheeks. His wife smiled meekly as they paused at my side. I glanced down at his shirt,
USS Oklahoma, and recognized the name of his ship. I was standing in front of a bona fide American. This Japanese-American man looked into my eyes-unashamedly, his hands extended for mine. I shook his firm grasp and then his wife's. He wanted to talk about the war and the friend's that he had lost. His final trip to pay his respects. He had cancer.

I stared out at the ocean, swallowing the lump in my throat.

Our boat pulled away from the pier and we headed back for the visitor center. I clutched my microphone. I could already see a swarm of people, gathering at the parking lot of the Arizona Memorial. I braced myself for another tour and another walk on the grave. I lifted my face into the wind, closing my eyes and drinking in its heavenly scents. The salt...the wind, carrying voices from its past. I could hear Old Glory, flapping in the wind... with promises for another day.

Remembering Pearl Harbor


What better way to start this blog rolling than to pay tribute to PEARL HARBOR!

It’s been over 20 years since I’ve shook the hands of a Pearl Harbor veteran. Each year these returning veterans are dwindling in numbers… One of these days no more handshakes…

How can I ever forget their eyes, their hugs, their tears…

I was being trained to drive President Hoover’s private yacht. A charming wooden boat similar in size to the 50-foot gray boats I had been driving in Ford Island. My earlier job was transporting military personnel from island to island. Back in the 1980’s there were no bridges to connect the islands, so my job consisted of radio dispatching from the boathouse, training personnel, and transporting passengers night and day, rain or shine, storm or gale. Other than dependency on boats to get around, the only other option was to hop the ferry at the end of the island.

I loved driving the President’s yacht and transporting 50 passengers at a time to the memorial. I had been upgraded from the dusty boathouse and blue dungarees, to full military dress whites, shiny black shoes, and black beret. What an honor and privilege. Before long, the Navy upgraded Hoover’s yacht to two shiny white 75-foot twin engine tour boats enabling us to transport 200 passengers at a time.

But, my heart yearned for the boathouse again… I missed getting my hands dirty, waving at the passing submarines, radioing incoming ships, and saluting the officers. I was meant to wear my blues… I loved the rare times when my boat was empty and I was racing across the harbor. Those quiet moments on the bow as my partner manned the helm. I felt like I was on the Titanic, looking over the waves, feeling on top of the world. Every so often, catching sight of a sea turtle, the wind blowing against my face and the scent of nearby palms… how heavenly the islands smelt!

I’d catch a glimpse of the white tour boats as they transported the visitors to the memorial… How I loved Pearl Harbor…

To this day, I cannot smell diesel fuel, or taste the sea on my lips, without remembering the boats… the veterans, or the history…

Within a year or so, I will be returning to the islands with my own family. My own memories creased upon my forehead, the pride as I watch Old Glory swishing over the stern.

I don’t like changes. With sadness I will gaze over Ford Island. The new bridges, the housing, the landmarks gone… The only thing unchanged is the Arizona. Still embalmed, still intact… A grave reminder of our past.


Water Transportation - Boathouse - Ford Island






From the airplane