November, 2013

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ART! And We Need More COWBELL!

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My heartfelt thanks for all of your prayers and good wishes during this hard time, whether “uttered or unexpressed.” It is very much appreciated.

And now here is the previously written Friday post from last week. We just got the color versions yesterday so I’ve added them in.

For the record, Dad, I love you.

The art for Chapter 14, Zombies and Ghosts was fun to do, and once again Nina not only read my mind, she improved upon it. Shocking but true!

The first illustration. I give all the sketches names because I’m not really a numbers person. But they all have numbers too, based on the order and which phase they’re in: first approval, second approval, color and the final hi-resolution image. But I digress.

This one is called, “Zombie Apocalypse”:

HT-32pitchAmer Goth pitch

Sk_HT_32B-1I didn’t realize I’d drawn a pitchfork in someone’s hand until I saw Nina’s sketch. Oh, people Not Of Rolfe, harken to me: We do not actually walk around with pitchforks, just so you know. I was about to protest to Nina for her stereotyping (until I saw that I’m the one that drew it first). I fortuitously decided I liked it for this setting.

But I always have to have something. I always have to have MORE.

“More cowbell! Er, ZOMBIES!” I cried. “And also, could you make Maxwell’s hair more flowing?”

Nina’s second sketch:


Ooh, la-la! EXCELLENT! Maxwell’s hair is flowing! And, look! More Zombies are behind that farmer now, just like I wanted! I love that slight zombie-ness Nina gave the good people of Reliance without going overboard.We’re actually quite a lovely, pitchfork-less people in person, of course. Now we’re just waiting for the color version.

Update: Ta-dah! Here ’tis!


The second illustration is called “Pretty Priscilla.” My sketch:

HT-033 Pretty Priscilla

Nina’s first take:


What a great idea! To have the spider BEHIND Hazel and Elizabeth, rather than in front! My only note for this one is that I didn’t want Elizabeth to appear scared, she’s every bit – and perhaps more – eager to follow those footprints in the dust than Hazel is.

The second sketch:


Approved! Now we’re waiting for color for that one too.

Voila! It has arrived!

HT_33I love the coloring and detail that Nina gives. She puts so much thought into everything. So much Cowbell.

Of course, all that detail and care takes time. Chapter 15 is nipping at Nina’s heels.

It’s all a process, this book of ours. There will be buggaboos along the way. But slow and steady will win this race in the end. You’ll see.

In the meantime! Happy Friday! And have a great weekend! You are much appreciated here!

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I had my post about the art of Chapter 14 all ready to go last night. Sometimes I do that the night before, I’ll write something and schedule it for the following morning so I don’t wake up in a panic. I will re-schedule it for Monday morning.

A MOM & DADLast night my father passed away, and I just can’t let this major event in my life go by without saying something about this special, special man. I haven’t wanted to talk about it because everyone loses their dad or they will lose their dad and you can sympathize with others when it does. It’s different when it happens to you, of course. This is my once.

DEA 7 CowboycMy father was my absolute hero. The kind of dad who would let you stand on his toes while he leads you around the dance floor. The kind of dad who gave us the opportunity to live so many places. The kind of dad who would go on business trips and come back with gifts for his kids. Simple things, of course. There were seven of us after all. Once we each got our very own carton of Whoppers. Best Gift Ever.





The kind of dad who would wrestle us on Sundays, playing “King of the Mountain” or “Rolling Man.” It’s a family thing.

The kind of dad who along with his favorite pardner, my mother, kidnapped us out of school and drove us the hour long trip to Honolulu to see “Fiddler on the Roof.” Not only that, but we stayed in a hotel that night – a luxury! My first hotel stay ever! – and we got to skip school the following morning! THEN we went and saw the movie, “The Cowboys.” For no reason other than they wanted to do something special. For no reason. Who does that? My mom and dad, that’s who!

Mom & Dad WeddingWe were lucky enough to celebrate my parents 60th Wedding Anniversary in California this summer and all seven of us children were able to make it thanks to the efforts of many. My dad was sick at that time and we thought he might not make it until then, but he did! And he rallied afterwards and even got to drive a little again to his favorite store, Costco and go out to eat at his favorite restaurant. I thought maybe we’d be able to hang onto him for a few years more.


After all these years. STILL.

I am so blessed to have received a call from him and my mother for my birthday October 29th. As is our tradition, they sang the “Happy Birthday” song to me and my dad sounded clear and wonderful and he was himself. I wish I had it recorded, but it’s recorded in my heart. Very soon after that he suddenly took a turn for the worse.

My beautiful mother is an amazing woman that I am constantly in awe of. She has shown so much love and grace and compassion through this very tough time. I feel so lucky and as if I’ve cheated somehow by having two such wonderful parents.

Everyone’s dad is special to them, but this was mine. I will miss him. I will miss him!

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return.


About Chapter 14 Zombies & Ghosts


Saw this on Pinterest. LOVED it.

Chapter 14 Zombies & Ghosts opens with the reappearance of Maxwell, just after he leaves Marlene’s trailer. He drives through town, and if you noticed, his experience is much the same as Hazel and Ruth’s back in Chapter 9, with the friendly wavings of strangers.

In fact, both Ruth and Maxwell make the same observation, albeit in very different tones.

“It’s like stepping back in time!” Ruth happily sighed.

“It’s like stepping back in time!” Maxwell grumbled.

Isn’t life a bit like that? It’s all in how you look at things. Taking a positive approach to life isn’t always easy, but the important thing is to try, which in itself is a challenge sometimes.


Judith O’Dea in the opening scene of Night of the Living Dead.

Maxwell somehow misses the charm of a small town. That said, his attitude allowed me to work the term “Zombie Apocalypse” into the story, and for that I’m grateful. Ever since I got the 60’s classic movie “Night of the Living Dead” from the Target $1 section in that cheap little cardboard box, I’ve been a teeny bit fascinated by them.

“What? Those things are so slow moving! How could they possibly be scary?” But Oh, They Were.

Along those lines, when I watch the occasional scary movie, I always wonder where in the line of hapless victims marching towards their fate I’d like to be. Certainly not in front! Not in back either – YIKES. The middle’s most likely the safest, but Hazel decides to take the lead.

zombierolfe1Last night as I was at my computer and I thought about going up those attic stairs of mine in the dark just to see if I could.

Well, bat season or no it would take some courage. Granted, it was during the daytime for the trio in Chapter 13, but Hazel had seen those ghosts. And she was deathly afraid of spiders, so I think the challenge between me and her was equal. I couldn’t have done it.

But she did. She’s learning to be brave. I am too. Life is one endless lesson, isn’t it?

The artwork isn’t in color, not yet, but even in sketch Nina’s outdone herself. I hope you’ll come back to see it tomorrow. Until then!



Postcard featuring the Opera House of Rolfe, Iowa.

She Must Have Done Something Good

Wait for it…..



SOMEONE won in a bit of a landslide last night…


amayor2To our own little sister Julie, who has done many good things, and continues to do them. I am so happy for our town.

Tomorrow: About Chapter 14 Zombies & Ghosts with thanks to my brother Dennis, who managed to post it in the nick of time in spite of all that’s going on.

In the meantime, today we celebrate. Congratulations, Julie! I LOVE YOU.


I am PREJUDICED and PROUD of it!

Julie5Let me get THAT out of the way right now. Actually, “biased” is probably a better word to describe circumstance, but “PREJUDICED” in nice, capital letters sounds so much better and more “grabby.”

For those of you who live in Rolfe, and there are nearly 600 of us, you might be aware that the elections are today. And how fitting! It’s going to Rain, there’s a 100% chance! And later, it’ll turn into Snow! And it’s cold, so we’ve turned on our Heat! And because of the recent daylight savings time, there will be Gloom of Night.

You probably know where I’m going with this…

juliepeKISMET. Because a certain neighborhood postal worker is running for mayor. So as you go to the community center to vote today, and you feel that chill in the air, or that drop of rain on your face, or wend your way through the darkening gloom, I hope it reminds you.

And I hope you vote for Julie Lancaster.

Julie3vWhile I may be prejudiced, she is my sister and best friend after all, I can tell you that even if she weren’t, she’s the one I would vote for based on what I heard and observed at the recent “Meet the Candidates” event.

And not just because she’s smart enough to know not to show up at a job interview chomping gum, although you would think that would go without saying.

The reason I would vote for Julie is because she sees Rolfe the way I see Rolfe; as one of the best places on earth, and she wants to keep it that way. She’s energetic, she’s involved and she truly cares.

Julie4vEven when no one was looking, long before running for mayor was even a thought, she’s served on several different committees and spent countless hours doing community service, running the kids games and decorating the town gazebo for everyone’s enjoyment and a host of other things, without a neon sign or anything else to say, “Hey, Rolfe! Look what I’m doing!”

She just Does It.

Julie has a way of making people want to help. There’s something about her that draws people in. I know that first hand, for I am The Other Sister and I’ve witnessed it and she’s so gifted at it that I don’t even mind. It’s something you can’t teach, and it’s something a mayor will need. Rolfe IS a fine place, but it’s slipping. Just an ever so teeny, tiny bit. Julie is just the right person to nip that in the bud and bring us all back together. She loves this place with all her heart and wants it to succeed.

And she is SMART.

I could go on and on and on with my prejudicial banter, but all I want to say, and for what it’s worth:

Julie is the person for the job.

Hope you vote! And may all your wildest dreams come true.

Tonight at midnight, hopefully in a celebratory mood! Chapter 14 Zombies & Ghosts.

From Kansas To OZ

Hot via the magic of email! Here they are!

First off, the sketch:


And now, in drenched, Oz-like color:


drevilcBut, wait! Now that I saw it in color, I noticed something missing. And, NO, it wasn’t to delay-Nina-for-the-next-chapter-set-of-illustrations-so-that-there-was-finally-a-chance-that-my-charmingly-child-like-sketches-could-be-used-instead!

I can’t believe you’d think that.

See if you can guess what was added in this final, final version. Answer at the bottom of the post:

HT_30-1Lastly, “The Milky Brown Eye.” Here’s the sketch:


And in color!

HT_31As always, Nina’s done a perfectly lovely, if un-childlike job. Which is fine, if you like that sort of thing (which I confessedly do)…This is one of my favorites so far.

So, did you notice what was missing from the first illustration? It was hard to tell from the sketch alone:

RNsLook closely:


drevilsoonIf you noticed Ruth’s necklace appear in the second version, you were right! Ruth had to have her necklace, she put it on just before the opening of Elizabeth’s box. It wasn’t until I saw it in color that I noticed it was missing.

We just got Nina’s sketches for Tuesday night’s chapter!

There are a few changes to be made.

I’m sure she’ll work with her usual skill and speed.


Until tomorrow!

The Art of 13: The Eyes Have It

Chapter 13 The Question & The Quest. Nope, still no color! Which is just fine. We shall go with what we have for today’s post, including corrected sketches from Nina that are currently not in the book. They may never see the light of day because we’ll probably go straight to color! But they’ll see the light of day here! YES, I’m as excited as you are…

First off, my sketch. It’s entitled, “Tell Ruth”:

HT-030 Tell RuthaNina’s initial sketch (and the one currently in use):


Our notes: “Elizabeth needs to be more animated. She’s talking quickly and so excited to be alive again. Hazel should still be surprised. It’s only moments since the first time she’s seen a doll come to life. Ruth’s head should be turned more towards Elizabeth, rather than away.”

The corrected sketch, For Your Eyes Only:


The changes are subtle, until you look closely. If you flash back and forth between the two, it’s almost like a moving cartoon!


Honorable mention, the sketch road not taken (I’d given Nina two choices for the second illustration of this chapter). I called it “The Torch is Passed,” because Hazel is now Elizabeth’s human. That’s the way it should be…:


To that end, I’d climbed onto a step ladder to get a shot of my living room to show what I meant. Note the entryway hall tree in the forefront of both my sketch and the photo I took for Nina:


Why, yes I like color. How did you guess…? (But please note, these color’s aren’t quite accurate. Still, my house is VERY colorful.)

She went for the second choice instead, entitled, “A Milky Brown Eye”:

HT-031BHere are a pair of eyes that SHOULD be a nice, warm brown, but the early plastic has dried out and “crazed”:

13milkyexampleSome doll restorers will replace the eyes. Not me! They never, ever look the same and I can instantly tell they’ve been replaced by their sparkly perfection – which simply doesn’t fit in with an old doll’s face. Besides, the “eyes are the windows to the soul”! They’re the things that have seen so many things over the 70 – 80 years that they’ve been in existence.

I would much prefer to take a little bit of sewing machine oil and drip a drop in, careful to avoid her skin. I’m sure I’ll have an example of before and after at some time. There’s no avoiding the occasional crazed eye. In fact, I see a pair every time I look in a mirror…

Nina’s first sketch:


I decided I really wanted accuracy for my Sears Home, which as you know is Hollyhock Hideaway itself!

I am so very lucky that the book “Homes in a Box” Modern Homes From Sears Roebuck decided to feature my particular, which is No. 146, because they show the extras! Like this page:


Detail of the door knob:

13SearsdetailI sent Nina this photo of the knob for the door to my attic (after removing the bat-proofing pencil that is usually stuck in the keyhole. Don’t sneer! It seems to have worked! I haven’t had any bats this year – knock on wood (oh please oh please oh please, let bat season be over)):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPatient Nina obliged. Her revised sketch:

Sk_HT_31B-1Both have since been approved to go to color, so we’ll get them soon!

In the meantime, I’ve been sketching away at the next batch. You’ll be as shocked as I am to know: I haven’t gotten any better. But that’s okay! The idea’s the thing.

Until next time! Hope everyone had an EXCELLENT Halloween! Happy November! Have a great weekend!