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June 26, 2011

Yep.  Now I'm on a book-making binge.  Finally back to miniatures! 
Needs more books!
 Harken back to my Archaeologist's Study.  I designed a huge shelf for display items and books, but never managed to fill up the shelves.  Then I decided I was going to create a steampunk library, which, of course, needs books.  And then, the other week, I saw an online idea for a wall-hanging 'window box,' kind of like a shadow box made to look like a storefront with a big display window.  I got a wonderful mental image of an old fashioned shoppe window filled with used books.  Which means even MORE  books.  So I had to get moving.

About a year ago I had purchased a leather book kit by Jeanetta Kendall.  I had also slowly been collecting scrapbook papers that I thought might make suitable book covers.  Then, on Friday, I went to the scrapbooking show with my mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt, where I kind of went a little crazy tracking down appropriate book papers.  In all, I think I've spent about $100 on materials.  I figured I better justify my madness and actually produce some books!

28 books here, 12 over there, and 900 more to go . . .
So far, I've made forty, and absolutely no dent in either the supplies or filling up holes in the shelves.  I've figured out which papers work and which ones don't.  I still need to try some fabric coverings, and somewhere I have a gold pen that I need to find and test.
Jeanetta Kendall's book kit is amazing.  It comes with super-thin sheets of leather-like paper, printed with gold ink, and three sizes of little wooden blocks to serve as the interior.  There are tiny crop marks as guidelines on the 'leather', and you can use either scissors or an Xacto knife to cut out each book binding.  I painted the edges of the blocks with gold, and used Aleene's tacky glue to paste the binding to the block.  Everything fit perfectly, I had no problems, even when messy me got glue on the outside of the book.  Wiped right off!  Since I used an Xacto knife to cut them out, I still have plenty of leftover 'leather' to cover other books with - particularly if I make smaller ones.

I purchased balsa wood to use for book interiors, but the quality hasn't been that great.  Since we just got a new set of unwanted yellow and white pages dropped off, I thought I would use the white pages to cut and make up my own interiors.  It might be a bit more work, but hopefully it will add some extra realism.

I'm not against buying books.  I'd like to buy one of each at Treefeathers, if only she had that option!  I just need to be careful and get books that are properly in scale - so many look too big!  I also want to design my own, particularly the spines.  I can pull lots of covers off the internet, but not so much the spines, which is generally all you get to see of a book on a shelf, anyway.  Maybe I should just take a camera in to a library or bookshop and photograph those.

Yes, I have a book issues. There are books in every room in the house, and I think there should be more.  Lone books just look so sad, they need lots of friends!
June 9, 2011

Local Neighborhood Information for Centreville, Chantilly and Fairfax County, Virginia Provided by Spencer Marker

I'm hopping up and down inside.

I grew up in Herndon, where the historical society is very active and vociferous. I had the opportunity to work with them in my position at the local TV station, and so got to know Herndon history very well. Yes, it was a hokey little dairy town on the W&OD railroad, but people lived there and influenced other's lives.

When I moved to Centreville, I was a little disappointed at the dearth of historic information. I managed to dredge up a 1970's book on Centreville from, of all places, GMUs library. I fortunately had a professor who lived in one of Centreville's few historic houses, and provided me with a lot of information on the area.

I began a summer internship with Fairfax County Park Authority last week, where I will be cleaning up their document and photograph section in the computer database. The transfer from paper to PC was not exactly successful. Since I have OCD tendencies towards organization, and I can beat any computer into submission, I feel this position is right up my alley. History AND Computers!

Sadly, the computer I was slated to use was abruptly upgraded before I began work, and the database program has not yet been installed!

In the meantime, I've been acquainting myself with the paper database and some of the original documents and photos. Each item has an accompanying work sheet detailing the information about it. The items are in archival safe boxes, sorted by location, and assigned its own archive number. The work sheets are in numeric order in binders according to whether it's a photo or a document or the dreaded 'miscellaneous.' From what I saw before the upgrade, the computer just has the assigned numbers, and may or may not have any detail information.

I thought I would begin by creating a spreadsheet of the work sheet information, so all I would have to do is copy and paste into the database program once it's installed, after checking that the item matches the number and the work sheet description. This means I get to read lots of descriptions of photographs of local places, some of them unfamiliar.

I've taken to conducting a little internet research and adding that information to the description so that I have a better idea of what an item is. So far I've corrected a mislabeled church, added the name of a park to a description just labeled 'battle monument' (and learned why Monument Drive in Fairfax is CALLED Monument Drive!), and added pertinent information to archived newspaper articles. (title, author, publication, date! c'mon, that's important!)

I also discovered a few extra historic sites in Centreville, such as listed the website posted above, and other websites like and

I haven't yet seen the pictures to these descriptions yet, and hope that I'll be proved correct. I'm having a blast and I haven't even gotten started!
June 5, 2011

The first movie is still the best.  This one lacked  the energy, although I do admire the historical details. 

The premise is a race to the Fountain of Youth, stopping to collect all the items needed to make it work.  I sense a video game in the future.  The racers? Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard, for whom Sparrow worked under duress, our old friend Barbossa, now sporting a pegleg and technically working under the English Crown as a privateer, and some Spanish prince. We never really learn anything about him, except he's snooty and holier-than-thou.

I was pleased with the first appearance of Blackbeard.  A solid, rough looking man, with burning fuses tied into his great beard, glaring fiercely at his mutinous crew.  Excellent entrance.  And then . . . he pulled out his magic sword.

Now, I have nothing against swords.  I LIKE swords. And magic.  Magic rocks.  For a historical pirate adventure movie, a little bit of magic and a little bit of swords is perfectly acceptable. Voodoo and other beliefs were/are present in the Caribbean, and there's no reason they shouldn't be in these movies.  I mean, after all, they are looking for an epic fountain!  This magic sword, however, was just too much.  It was jarring.  He could control the entire ship and everything on it with it, performing complicated rope tying and etc with a wave.  Certainly, I can accept cursed coins.  They did one simple thing: prevent the holder from dying until it was returned to its home.  Jack Sparrow's compass?  It too, did one simple thing - point toward the holder's heart's desire.  This sword?  It probably baked bread and made coffee while it was adjusting the sails.  It begged the question:  if he had that sword, which performed necessary ship tasks quicker and more efficiently than the losers below decks, WHY DID HE NEED A CREW?

That's the other thing.  My main answer for the crew's presence is to use them in close combat.  However, Blackbeard's ship, The Queen Anne's Revenge, was equipped with . . . wait for it . . . FLAMETHROWERS.  That's right.  Two of 'em, tucked in the bow of the ship.   I'd like you to pause and think about 18th century sailing vessels.  What are they made of?  What are they covered in?  What do they carry when they're looking for a fight?  Wood, you say?  Tar and swaths of cloth, yes?  Gunpowder, right?  Things that catch fire easily? Is having flamethrowers in the FRONT of a hard-to-steer wooden and tar-covered ship carrying gunpowder REALLY a good idea?  No.

I calmly accepted mermaids, zombies, fountains that granted immortality, voodoo dolls, compasses that that pointed to heart's desires, and even actual shrunken ships in bottles.  I could not get my head around that sword, and refused to accept the flamethrowers. 

It was fun if you're looking for lots of action and a simple plot.  Sam Claflin was hot.  Jack's complex escape from King George Vernon Dursley's chamber was highly amusing.  I'm sure I'll add it to the collection.