Thursday, October 30, 2008

Behind the (Many) Mask(s)

I won't really be Halloweening it this year, or even dressing up, because, once again, I'll be en route to New Jersey, this time for my sister's birthday party. I've been on the go so much lately, I haven't had much time to think of a costume, anyway. (I did hear a rumor that there would be face painting at the party, though!)

But I think the drive will give me plenty of time to plan next year's costume. In the meantime, here is a list of my most memorable costumes... sadly, I only have a few photos. Such is the way of the pre-digital camera world. Or the I-was-partying-so-I-forgot-photos world. Or the I-was-partying-so-I-deleted-those-photos world.

1. The Queen of Hearts costume I mentioned on Becky's blog.

2. At 11, I took a cardboard box, a sheet, and some aluminum foil and turned my best friend into a pack of Bubble-Yum. I have no idea what my costume was, but I've always remembered hers.

3. Cruella de Vil, just before the news came out of the live-action version of 101 Dalmations. That costume was fabulous: a white fur coat (from a thrift store, I promise), a red silk purse, a slinky black dress, the perfect wig, and a cigarette holder to top it all off.

4. I turned myself into Daphne and my mother into Velma in 2000, two years before the Scooby-Doo movie (again with the uncanny cinematic timing), for my mom's Halloween birthday party about 8 years ago.

I was sewing that costume, which you can't even see in this photo, on the airplane from Philly to Reno, much to the amusement of my fellow passengers. But I was even prouder of my mom's costume -- those glasses are the perfect touch, no?

5. In 2003, I made a mask out of cardboard, paint, sequins and ribbons. Didn't really fit my face, but doesn't that just make it more mysterious? (Please say yes.) It hangs in my studio to this day.

And, to tell the truth, that blue cloak ends up as an element of my costumes on a regular basis.

6. And for years, I was Annie at every opportunity... Halloween, school photos, random Annie-ish occasions, so I could remind the sun to come out tomorrow.

7. And then I morphed into Laura Ingalls...

8. Actually... yeah... who needs Halloween?

My 12th birthday party.

Me in a production of The Pied Piper my cousins and I put on at my grandma's house.

I look like my Dad, don't I?

Many years in the Society for Creative Anachronism left me with a great wardrobe.


Which I continue to find reasons to wear.

How do I look as a blond? Me and some of my coworkers on Official Wear-a-Wig-to-Work day. Okay, so it's not a national holiday yet. It will be soon.

And if you don't have a wig, just improvise.

Oh, wait, this isn't really a costume, per se, but a uniform.
I wore this to march in a parade at Disneyland and perform on the field at Angel Stadium during halftime of a USC game. Then I quit the band and joined crew instead. Where we also got cool clothes, but no flag.

Whatever you're wearing, I hope you have a very happy Halloween!

Witchy Woman: Who, Me?

This morning was full of those little annoyances that add up quickly into something more disgruntling than the sum of their parts, and I was feeling quite witchy after such a tricky day...

... but then I opened the mailbox and got a sweet treat.

The Fab (and so generous) Miss B, akay Becky Kazana, offered up a giveaway of her Halloween mix in exchange for a comment about her readers' best Halloween costumes, and I, with no casting of spells whatsoever, won...

The packaging alone is a treat...

... and the mix is awesome, full of a number of songs I have loved for years but never had in my collection, and is going a long way toward improving my mood.

(I even got a new vibrant green sticker to add to my long-beloved clipboard from my TV days.)

My winning luck has been lovely lately (with the exception of the races a few weeks ago), and so I think it will soon be time for me to offer up a gift to the world in return. It may take me a little while, since my topsy-turvy schedule still stretches out in front of me for weeks to come, but watch this space for your chance to win some sort of paintandinky treat.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


The Phillies won the World Series!!!!!!!

Sometimes there IS crying in baseball.

Tears of joy!

They Say It's Your Birthday...

I'd like to wish my mom a very happy, belated birthday -- it was yesterday. Happy birthday, Mom! May it be the start of a magical year.

And today, it's my sister's second birthday. Happy birthday, Olivia!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm a Thief, but I Have a Cute Hat

For all that I am against the stealing of other people's images, I am shamelessly stealing photos from my stepmother's Facebook account. Don't try this at home, but I think she'll forgive me...

Me and my dad.

Me and my stepmom.

Me and my dad, after the game. That rally towel? It was pristine, until I dropped it on the rainy ground in the ninth inning. I don't care, I'm framing it, dirt smudges and all.

(As for my hat, whoops, how did it get turned around? Must have been in all the excitement.)

Cold and Wet and Happier Than I Can Ever Explain

World Series, Game 3
October 25, 2008
Citizens Bank Park
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It was the most exciting baseball game I have ever attended in my life.

It was POURING before the game. We got there at 6 p.m., the start of the game was delayed until 10, and the game ended just before 2 a.m.

But at least we were luckier than the fans at yesterday's game, who sat in pouring rain during the game, and then had to go home when it was suspended.

These fireworks went off during the Star-Spangled Banner -- and then went off for every Phillies home run -- three times during the game -- that was fantastic!

We had a great view. High up, but we could see everything -- including the Philly skyline over the back of the park -- and at least twice, our section started a cheer that spread through the whole stadium. It was awesome.

Then again, we also got to see one of our neighbors arrested for peeing over the railing... it seems, onto the head of a police officer (we didn't actually see that happen, because he was two rows behind us, just the arrest). I've never seen a police officer so angry; I thought he might throw the guy over the railing himself. I couldn't believe what an idiot the guy was... wasting a World Series ticket like that and only in the first or second inning.

The upper sections of the park... a different world.

Shane Victorino, the Flyin' Hawaiian

This photo is actually in remarkable focus, considering how far away we were and the fact that this is 16x digital zoom.

The Philly Phanatic: We have the best mascot ever.

At the top of the 7th, we moved down to the standing room only area, to be part of the crowd, and missed all the craziness that led to a tie game, because I decided to make a "quick" stop at the merch stand on the way.

But we didn't miss the ninth inning... in which a game in which the winning team had three home runs was won with a hit that didn't even leave the infield.

After the game... everyone was so excited... perfect strangers hugging each other... we were all exhausted, and frozen, but I didn't want to leave... this is me (on the right) with my friend Amanda (on the left) and her friend Dawn (in the middle)...

I really don't have the words - or the photos - to describe what an amazing night it was - I get tears of excitement in my eyes when I think about it - and I can't ever put into words how grateful I am that I had the chance to go.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Mapping the Story of the United States

I am so very fortunate and grateful to have been recently given a copy of the Census Atlas of the United States. It's a marvelous book for those of us who, as I read in a comment made recently by Anne Chung, "read maps like novels."

Full of vibrantly colored graphics, this atlas tells the stories of America through all those details that make up our lives: ancestry, language, occupation, and so forth.

I have poured over this book for hours, and probably will for a long time to come. Beautiful, absorbing, and meticulously assembled, it's a treasure for map lovers and fact lovers.

If you'd like your own copy, you can purchase the atlas here or you can download it in PDF format for free here.

Fascinating stories and a fascinating book.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm in a Calendar! No, not that kind...

Before I became a full-time artist again in July, I worked at Dolphin Scholarship Foundation, an incredible independent nonprofit organization that provides undergraduate scholarships to children and stepchildren of U.S. Navy submariners and Navy members who've served in a submarine support capacity.

It was a meaningful job, not least because my husband is a submariner, and I am very proud of him and what he does, and hold deep admiration for the sailors who serve our country from deep beneath the sea, often with very little or no contact with the world above.

DSF gives back to this community, in the form of 137 scholarships each year (each Dolphin Scholar will receive $3,400 for the 2008-2009 school year). If you know someone who might qualify for a scholarship, please have them take a look at the eligibility requirements.

The Foundation held a novel fundraiser this year, a virtual submarine race to the North Pole, in which each dollar donated in the name of a submarine counted as one nautical mile for that boat. This "Race to the North Pole" commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first crossing of the North Pole, not just by a submarine but by any ship, on August 3, 1958 by the USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571), which you can explore here, and which was first to the North Pole again, although with some heavy competition this time around...

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to commemorate the "Race" with a contribution to another DSF fundraiser and longtime tradition, the annual cartoon calendar.

If you are interested in supporting the submarine community by purchasing a calendar of your own, they are available now, for $8.50 each, plus shipping (and sales tax for VA residents). You can find the contact information here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cherry-Picking #7: Steve? It's Your Wedding Day!

Today's story is one of the funnier things that happened to me when I worked on A Wedding Story, and it's all in what wasn't said.

The wedding was at the Venetian in Las Vegas (and both the crew and wedding party were staying there as well).

The groom's name was Steve.

As an associate producer, it was my job to get footage of the groom getting ready for the wedding.

So I called Steve up in the morning to find out when we should meet him.

"Hi, Steve?"


"It's Alison."

(pause) "Uh, hi?"

"Hi! Just checking to see when you're going to start getting ready for the wedding?"

(longer pause) "The wedding?"

"Um, yeah, your wedding. Today?"

(another long pause) "What?"

"You are getting married today, right?"

(no pause at all). "No."

(long pause on my part) "This is Steve, right?"


"Steve Smith?"

"No, this is Steve Jones."

Wrong room. Wrong Steve.


Here's the conversation as I interpreted it after we hung up:

"Hi, Steve?"


"It's Alison."

(pause: Alison. Alison. I don't remember meeting an Alison. But I was pretty wasted.) "Uh, hi?"

"Hi! Just checking to see when you're going to start getting ready for the wedding?"

(longer pause: Wedding? The wedding? ) "The wedding?"

"Um, yeah, your wedding. Today?"

(another long pause: My wedding? My wedding! Holy &#%@$! What happened last night? Oh, god, I've always heard bad stories about Vegas. Mama told me not to come.) "What?"

"You are getting married today, right?"

(no pause at all). "No."

(long pause on my part: Is this some kind of joke by his groomsmen? Or did the bride and groom have a fight? I do NOT want to call the producer and tell her the wedding has been called off.) "This is Steve, right?"


(This cannot be happening to me. What do I do?) "Steve Smith?"

"No, this is Steve Jones."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

When I Get a Little Money, I Buy Books...

When I get a little money, I buy books, and if any is left, I buy food and clothes. -- Erasmus

Because I am a DIY-er through and through, and because I've got books on my mind, I am going to write my own meme. I am sure it won't be that original, just like the title of this post, but I'm going to live dangerously and not even look to see if it's been done before.

If love books the way I do; if your palms start to sweat and you breathe a little faster when you walk past a bookstore; if you never turn down a free book, even it's about gastrointestinal health or in a language you can't read; if you remember the names of characters in books you read when you were ten better than you remember the names of people you went to college with; or if you just want to fill out the meme, then please do, and let me know.

(I know these answers are mostly fiction titles, but I have plenty of nonfiction books I love as well.)

Favorite Book(s): Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, A Wrinkle in Time and And Both Were Young by Madeleine L’Engle, Song for the Basilisk by Patricia McKillip, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Emily's Quest by L.M. Montgomery, Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee

Favorite Author(s): Madeleine L'Engle, Patricia McKillip, L.M. Montgomery, Orson Scott Card, Charles de Lint, Guy Gavriel Kay, Neil Gaiman, Joanne Harris, Isabel Allende, Tom Robbins, Ivan Klima (in no particular order)

Favorite genre(s): Fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, espionage and old-fashioned British mysteries (by Margery Allingham and M.M. Kaye). But really? I'll read anything.

Best beginning to a book, ever: Well, that's a hard one to answer (I know, I wrote the question), but I like these two lines:

"If I had cared to live, I would have died," from Silverlock by John Myers Myers.

"This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it," from The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Best ending to a book, ever: Water for Elephants, by Sarah Gruen

Book pilgrimages you've made: To DeSmet, South Dakota (Little House on the Prairie) and Cavendish, Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables)

Funniest book(s) you've read: Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club, by Laurie Notaro.

Book that picks you up when you're in a bad mood:
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman or anything by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Book that most surprised you: I had to read a book about the Peloponnesian Wars when I was in middle school, that I thought would be so boring -- I mean, it was a nonfiction history book about war, which was not a subject my girly-phase preteen self found all that interesting -- but I could not put it down. Absolutely captivating. Wish I could remember the title.

Book everyone else loves but you can't finish: Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and, um, I am embarrassed to admit it, but I can never make it past the halfway point of The Two Towers in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I keep trying, though.

Most memorable book you just happened to buy on a whim:
Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology, edited by Bruce Sterling. A Wrinkle in Time aside, this is the first science fiction book I remember reading, and it kindled a passion in me. And I just bought it because I liked the bright and colorful cover. Tsk Tsk.

Book you mistakenly judged by its cover: The Merchant of Marvels and the Peddler of Dreams, by Frederic Clement. I was working at B. Dalton in Newport Beach and this book was on the counter for months. I thought it was so ugly. One day I finally picked it up, said out loud, "Who would buy a book with such an ugly cover?" and promptly bought it. Amazing, wondrous, marvelous, splendid book!

Best recommendation you've received: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and Silverlock by John Myers Myers

A random recommendation: Tell me about yourself, and I'll recommend a book. Fiction, nonfiction, cooking, fantasy, business, history, whatever.

Books from your childhood that you still re-read: The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin, and anything by L.M. Montgomery or Madeleine L'Engle

Book you're reading now: The House on the Strand, by Daphne du Maurier

Book you've been actively reading for the longest time: A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman

Favorite guilty pleasure book: Anything by Judith McNaught. I'm not a romance reader, but I love her books. Total escapism.

Number of books you own: About 1,500 (Al keeps trying to talk me into getting rid of some, but I bet the total weight of my books is less than the weight of his beloved motorcycle. Okay, maybe not, but it can't be that much more.)

Number of books you own that you've never even read: About 100

Other random bookish fact about you: I collect copies of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in different languages as souvenirs when I travel. When I was six, the other kids called me Alison Wonderland. Drove me nuts back then but now I think it was, and is, totally fitting.

Al bought this for me in Spain.

Cherry-Picking #6: Theater Tickets, Anyone?

My mom wouldn't let me get a job in high school because she wanted me to concentrate on school.

Which worked, I suppose, because I had a 4.0 GPA, was my high school valedictorian, and received a full scholarship to college.

(Yes, I told you. I am a total nerd and not ashamed.)

But it also meant that when I did go job-hunting, at my father's insistence, one summer in college, I was terrified, and jumped at the first job I could get.


Considering that I hate talking on the telephone and hate asking people questions or to give me something, it's odd that this was just the first of many jobs that required me to do both: telemarketing, journalism, television production.

But it wasn't such a bad gig. I sold season tickets for South Coast Repertory, and I was actually pretty good at it, so I made a decent commission, the base pay wasn't bad for a college student, and I won a few prizes, like tickets to an Angels game, for selling the most tickets in a given week.

The best part, though, was that I was selling something I wanted myself, for an organization I believed in.

And while not everyone I spoke to was the kindest, friendliest person in the world, only one person was ever outright mean to me. So mean, in fact, that it was impossible to take him seriously. But as a result, I am as polite as can be to people who call my house, because they are, after all, just doing their job.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cherry-Picking, #5: The U.S. Constitution

Image downloaded from

I carry a copy of the U.S. Constitution with me.

Not everywhere I go, but I keep it in my calendar, and I take that most places I go.

(I know. I am a complete and total nerd, and I am not ashamed, because I have come to realize over the past eight years just how important this document is. The Constitution, not my calendar, although my calendar is certainly important to me.)

I used to just carry the Bill of Rights, in my wallet, you know, just in case I ever needed that. It was a lark, really.

But then Al and I visited the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, and they have little pocket copies of the Constitution for grabs at the ticket counter (typed, not a copy of the original as seen above).

Why settle for a few rights when you can have them all?

The print is so small I can barely read it, and I don't really spend a lot of time reading it, to be honest, but I like having it with me. Just in case I need it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cherry-picking, #4: I Find Myself Fascinating

I mentioned here that I find myself fascinating. And I really do.

But I think that statement deserves a little more clarification. It's not in an "I'm-so-cool-as-I-lean-against-my-red-sportscar-and-flip-my-hair (like-a-character-from-an-80s-movie)" kind of way. It's more in the way an infant stares at its hands, like, "Whoa, dude, look at those amazing things! Lordy!"

First, I find my life fascinating.

It actually usually feels quite routine (which I am discovering is not such a bad thing), but when I take a look back at the experiences that have happened to me, the things I have made happen, intentionally or unintentionally, the places I've gone, the people I've met, the things I have seen, I think, Wow, what a crazy, interesting, lucky life I lead!

I can't take much credit for it all, because I don't see myself as being in control as much as being a guide for my life, sort of loosely shepherding it in this way, or that, and waiting with anticipation to see what comes next. Even when something happens as a direct result of a conscious decision on my part, it usually unfolds in a completely unexpected manner.

Second, I do find myself fascinating.

But it's as if I were someone else, a subject to study, and I am starting to learn that I am not the Alison I thought I was.

I am 33, at the age where you start having doctors who are younger than you are, which is a bit of a shock, really, and you realize that all that worldliness and wisdom you thought you had in college and your 20s is replaced in equal parts by certainty and uncertainty.

In other words, even though I am pretty sure I know a few things by now, I am also aware that I know nothing, really. And I'm okay with that.

My life changed pretty drastically three years ago when my husband and I got married -- I left my job, and, really, my career; I left my friends and some of my family behind; I left my beloved city of Philadelphia; and (this is the one that I had the most trouble adjusting to, because I didn't expect it to be difficult at all), I left my name.

Essentially, I, who had never had a problem with dramatic changes and had gleefully jaunted off to live in countries where I knew no one and spoke none of the language not once, but twice, stepped into a major identity crisis and fell, and kept falling for a long time.

I did not know what hit me.

It has taken a lot of time to climb back out of the hole I fell into, using a ladder constructed mainly of two things: the patient and supportive love of my husband and this new life as an artist.

As I've climbed out, I have discovered that I am not the person I thought I was. In some ways, I've changed. In other ways, I just never was that person. But I find this new me as interesting as the old one, as I get to know myself all over again.

(And I am discovering that, in many ways, I have come full circle, and that, deep at the core, I am still just me.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Funny Money, Honey

Originally uploaded by Musely

Okay, okay, okay. Sorry about that post title.

But it IS funny money! So, so funny.

By Brendan McKeon, via Prêt à Voyager.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cherry-Picking, #3: The King of Cambodia

Today's interesting fact from my life:

I met the King of Cambodia once.

It was just before the wedding of his granddaughter. There were a few dozen of us. We had to kneel down on the ground (against my principles, but the combination of curiosity and the need to be polite in someone else's home is a potent mix) in the palace hall.

He walked down the line of kneeling people and held each of our hands for a moment, then left. I don't remember him saying anything.

His hands were very soft.

It felt strangely like being in church, receiving some sort of benediction.

The whole trip was slightly surreal.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cherry-Picking, #2: The Llama in the Halloween Costume

Today's interesting fact from Alison's life:

I once saw a llama.

In a bar.

In Manayunk, Pennsylvania.

Wearing a Halloween costume.

It was a little top hat and jacket with a candy corn pattern.

I was stone cold sober.

No one ever believes me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cherry-Picking the Interesting Bits #1: The Russian Truck Driver

I keep thinking of other things I should have added to the meme yesterday, but now I think it will be more intriguing to share them with you one at a time.

Today's Interesting Bit:

I was once in a car with a German friend when we had a blowout at 180 km/hour, in the middle of a winter night, on a dark highway in the Czech republic.

She didn't lose control of the car. She had a spare tire. But we had no tools.

And then a truck driver stopped to see what was wrong. Barbara and I both spoke English, German and a little Czech. The truck driver was Russian and spoke none of these three languages.

Fortunately, Czech is just similar enough to Russian that by wrangling with a dictionary, we eked out some bare bones communication. At least, we managed to convey the concept of "Wrench? Do you have?"

And when we all got a close look at the inside of the shredded tire, we all understood when each of us said some variation of "Holy #$*&%."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Just Love These Things...

I think being tagged is a terrific compliment. It means that one person, at least, wants to know more about me, so every time I'm tagged, I feel the same thrill that I do when someone buys something from my shop. So many thanks to Sarah, thebeadedlily, for she has done both.

So here goes... this is actually two memes, one after the other, but I'm pretty sure she intended we taggees to answer them both, and since I find myself to be pretty fascinating (whooops, did I just say that out loud?), I will.


Meme #1:

The rules are:
1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I hate going to bed and often stay up way too late, then feel like I'm behind all the next day, no matter how much I accomplished by staying up late.

2. I still believe I will visit every country in the world in my lifetime. I am so jealous of that couple in the "1,001 Places to See Before You Die" television show.

3. I still am not quite sure how to apply make-up so I stick mostly to mascara.

4. I have no concept of my own hair color. No matter how many times I color it, it just looks brown to me. If I bleached it blond, it would still look brown to me. Apparently right now, it's strawberry blond. Ish. But it looks brown to me.

5. I have a knack for accumulating free stuff.

6. I have flown about 570,000 miles in my lifetime (I'm 33), and I had flown about 500,000 miles before I developed a fear of flying. Now I clean the house from top to bottom before I fly anywhere, just in case.

7. My dream place to live would be in the mountains, overlooking the ocean. Then I could have them both.


Meme #2:

Two names you go by:
1. Al
2. Alisoni

Two things you’re wearing now (Oh, I should have changed before answering this one; I'm still wearing the clothes I threw on after scuba class tonight and they're not all that interesting):
1. Track pants
Two things you would want [or have] in a relationship (I do have them and know that I am so, so lucky):
1. Love
2. Friendship

Two favorite things to do?
1. Read
2. Draw

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. Success with my artwork so I can pull my own weight around here and contribute to #2.

Two things you did yesterday:
2. Watched the Phillies win in my other favorite city. But I just want you to know that my baseball loyalties are in no way split, no matter how much I love Los Angeles.

Two things I ate yesterday:
1. Chik-Fil-A
2. Egg salad on a bagel

Two people you last talked to:
1. My husband
2. My scuba instructor

Two things you’re doing tomorrow:
1. Taking my written scuba test
2. Working on a map of Panama

Two favorite beverages:
1. Coffee
2. Red wines of various sorts

Two people no longer alive that you’d like to talk to:
1. My maternal grandmother
2. My paternal grandfather (for advice on betting the horses, natch)


Sarah also nominated me for the Kreative Blogger award, but I have tried uploading the image multiple times with no luck and I am way past my bedtime (See? And I actually have to take a test tomorrow) so I am going to have to give up on that. Check it out here.

My fellow taggees and awardees are... oh, no... here I go not following the rules again...

I'm tagging anyone who wants to be tagged. If you come read my blog, that means, yes, I want to know more about YOU. So please, take the memes, post your answers, and leave me a comment to let me know. Please, do it!

The Obligatory "Excuse Our Dust" Browser-Switch Announcement

UPDATED: to add that I have changed my display name to "paintandink," so everyone will recognize me. I hope. Do you know who I am?


Well, I guess it's not really obligatory, but I've seen a lot of them.

This is an apologetic announcement to all my friends in blog-o-land that I've reluctantly switched browsers (from my wonderful Firefox to Camino, because Firefox was crashing repeatedly on my Mac. Seems this is not an uncommon problem when people use Firefox on a Mac, and I was unable to find a consensus about the cause, but that's not the announcement...).

Regrettably, my live bookmarks aren't working on Camino, so I am switching all of my regular blogs -- all of the bookmarks I wanted to keep, actually -- to Google Reader. I much prefer visiting actual blogs themselves over going to a reader, but it's difficult without live bookmarks to streamline the process. Otherwise, I have to check every single blog every single day, and I am just not able to do that. So I have great faith that Google Reader* will ultimately help streamline my blog-checking and turn me into a better blog friend!

But it's taking time, because I have bookmarked hundreds of blogs over the years, and I must move them over one at a time. So please, bear with me, and forgive me. I promise, I haven't forgotten you.

* Bloglines never really caught on with me, and Google Reader seems even more inconvenient to use, but I am a big fan of Google's services, so I am willing to try in the interest of keeping my online activities integrated.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Alison's (Underwater) Wonderland

My second (real) scuba diving lesson was yesterday, and it was our first day in the pool. I was a bit anxious, I have to admit, because when Al and I went for the free introductory lesson, I spent a good deal of time feeling baffled, confused and overwhelmed by the 8,003 things you have to keep track of. The kicker being that if you forget just one of those things, it could spell disaster. Unless, of course, you have gills. Which I don't.

This time, it was different; the instructor was patient, methodical and very calm, and although I still found it tough to remember everything at once, I was able to follow his lead and keep calm long enough to think things through before I panicked.

For the first time, I'm actually thinking I am going to really like this scuba diving adventure, especially if it means I get to go see things that I can only see on television now, like cool fish, fabulous shipwrecks (I am already hoping to take that extra class), interesting creatures, and other unusual and awe-inspiring things. These are things I love, and now I can get to know them even better.

Well, not now. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. But soon, soon.

And speaking of underwater creatures and things I love, I am proud to introduce you to a few new creatures in my shop:

They're part of a four-creature series, all four of which will be available in the shop by the end of the day (might add more to the series later, too).

The featured sellership was fantastic, a dream come true, but boy-o-boy, it sure cleared out my inventory (not that I'm complaining, mind you). And I am just now getting it back up to snuff, with lots of new originals in the shop: those and other sea creatures...

...more small ships...


... treasure maps on wood...

... larger originals of all kinds...

... and if you're not intersted in scuba diving yourself, there's other ways to explore the wonders of the ocean...

Something for everyone, and much, much more to come.