Autograph Ninja: Book Edition

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It’s no secret that I love a good autograph (see The Autograph Ninja and The Autograph Ninja Strikes Again). I’ve collected signatures from actors, musicians, and authors over the years and apparently my friends have noticed. Most of the recent autographs I’ve acquired have been gifts and that makes them all the more special to me.

Last Christmas, a co-worker was my Secret Santa. She got me hooked on Outlander by giving me the first book in the series a few months before. I loved it and couldn’t wait to read the next book. I almost died when I opened my Christmas gift – it was a signed copy of Dragonfly in Amber. The funny thing is, I was her Secret Santa, too. I got her an Outlander coloring book!

 

One of the most sentimental autographs I’ve ever received came from a dear friend that passed away a few years ago. We shared a love of the Maisie Dobbs series and often read the newest release together. The last Christmas gift he gave me was signed copy of a title I was missing in my collection of the series, Pardonable Lies, (I borrowed it from him originally). It remains one of my most precious memories of him.

The same friend also gave me a signed copy of Hide Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver. He was a huge fan of Kingsolver and was pretty determined to convince me to read everything she’s ever written (I’m working on it!). He gave it to me shortly before he passed away. I like to think he knew I’d take care of it for him. He was right. I will.

Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to come across autographs on my own. I love how Barnes & Noble started offering signed editions of books around the holidays. I treated myself to a signed copy of Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I love her series, The Lunar Chronicles, so it was so exciting to snag a signed copy of her most recent novel.

The last and most recent autographs were gained the old fashioned way – I went to Phoenix Comicon and waited in line! The book is Q-Squared by Peter David. I bought it 23 years ago (with my first ever paycheck!) and always hoped I’d get Peter David to sign it as he is one of my favorite sci-fi writers. It turns out he was scheduled to be at Phoenix Comicon, along with the actor who plays Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I decided to have my book signed by both.

I struck gold with John de Lancie (Q). He turned out to be a pretty cool guy with a serious love of history. Once he found out I was a history teacher, we had a nice chat about books to read and the general scope of historical events.

Unfortunately, Peter David had to leave Comicon early due to a family emergency, but he did leave behind index cards with his autograph for fans to pick up. It’s too bad the autograph isn’t directly on my book, but I’ll take it nonetheless – it’s still his autograph!

While it’s always more fun to get autographs by meeting an author, it’s incredibly special to receive them as gifts as well. In many ways, a gifted autograph takes on all the more meaning as it came from someone who cared enough to give it to me.

 

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c.b.w. 2017

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Sewing With Grandma

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The last two weeks have been filled with a lot fabric scraps and thread. My ongoing program to teach high school students how craft for charity has started sewing simple patchwork blankets. The idea was to get each student to sew simple quilt blocks of four squares and then sew everyone’s squares together to create a series of kennel blankets for the local humane society. I had no idea this project would stir so many emotions.

As I was cutting out squares for my students to sew, I found myself using my grandma’s block templates, seam allowance bar, and scissors. The memories came flooding back – summer at grandma’s where we learned how to sew. Grandma showing me how to hold a needle and how to pinch the fabric to make uniform stitches. Those wonderful memories made me dig through some of her old quilt patterns and I pulled one in particular.

Initially, I thought I would trace and cut the pattern pieces for students who exhibited higher level sewing skills. I sewed the first few blocks to remind myself how to work the pattern, but it quickly turned into something else. I realized I had inadvertently started this project two days before my grandma’s birthday. Perhaps it was subconscious action or kismet, but I could feel her with me. I ended up sewing every block and eventually pieced together an entire throw size blanket. The process was deeply cathartic.

Every skill she ever taught me came back, even though its been many years since I’ve sewn a quilt. I ended up with a beautiful little blanket that reminds me grandma is never really that far away.

The cat has already claimed it.

As for my students, they are learning quickly and we will be piecing together our first blankets next week. I made another blanket as a model for my students and even this project stirred some wonderful memories and sitting and sewing with my grandma. I can only hope my students feel the same kind of warmth – our little group has accomplished so much and we are all connected by what we’ve learned from one another.

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c.b.w. 2017

Friend

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It’s been more than a year

since I’ve seen your face,

heard your voice

Rarely a day goes by

where something

doesn’t remind me

that I knew you

and you were special

The books you read

the things you loved

are all still here

Sometimes I smile,

sometimes I cry

Either way the hole

you once filled

remains empty

Despite the distance

of time passing

I still think of you

grateful for the chance

to call you a friend

 

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Words: free-verse, c.b.w. 2015

 

Favorite Thing Friday: The Barbie Shelf

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It’s funny how poking around Pinterest can inspire the most unexpected projects. While cruising through the “Everything” category, I saw a pin for a beautiful doll – Lisette from the Barbie Fashion Model Collection. I let out a sigh and smiled. That very doll is in my curio cabinet, tucked away in her box. I haven’t seen her in years.

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Lisette, Barbie Fashion Model Collection
(Image: barbiecollector.com)

A little spark inside of me was rekindled when I lifted the lid off the long stashed away box. There she was in all her glory. Mint green satin and black velvet with a touch of rhinestone sparkle caught my eye more than ten years ago and it did once again.

That little spark lead to pulling all of my dolls out of the cabinet. I just had to see them again and remember what I loved about each and every one. I’ve been collecting Barbie dolls since I was a kid, but in recent years it’s fallen by the wayside. It’s not a cheap hobby (which was a concern) and quite frankly I wasn’t impressed with Mattel’s offerings. I’m a picky collector who likes to be wowed!

All of my dolls are just as beautiful as I remember. Although, I pulled out a few that I totally forgot were part of the collection. I have dolls tucked in one cabinet, one shelf, and two closets. Boxes are bound to be hidden and that makes it hard to enjoy the full scope of a collection. The concept of “the forgotten doll” was the inspiration for a little project that kept me busy for days. Never again, did I want to forget what dolls I had, nor did I want to lose out on enjoying their beauty.

To solve my “forgotten doll” problem, I turned back to Pinterest. I created a board, The Barbie Shelf, to catalog my collection with the help of the Mattel’s Barbie Collector website. For three days, I pulled out every box from every shelf  to say hello and “pin” her to my Barbie Shelf board.

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Click image to see the entire collection on Pinterest!

Not only was it fun to see all of my dolls again, but each doll has a memory. I remember who gave me certain dolls or I remember where I worked to save up for another. Over 20 years of my life is documented in my Barbie collection. From vintage style to the fashions of the 90s, these dolls represent a history I cherish.

Creating a catalog also helped me answer a burning question: How many dolls are in my collection? To my shock, the magic number is 84, (two of the pins are fashion ensembles). At one time, I know I had over a hundred, but the lack of space to store them forced me to purge some of my collection. I don’t have any regrets about the dolls I let go as I know they are in the hands of someone who will love them as much as I did. I kept the ones that meant the most to me and that’s good enough for me!

My little jaunt into Barbie heaven inspired me to dig up the dolls I played with as a child. I kept a select few and like the others, I hadn’t seen them in years. I pulled out my old Barbie carrying case and jumped head first into my early childhood. I had so much fun, I decided to create a Pinterest board cataloging those dolls as well, (Barbie Toy Chest). The funny thing is I remember the name of each and every doll, even if the dress is missing. I know them by their hair and face. The memories of playing with them are priceless.

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Click image to see more dolls. Maybe they were part of your childhood, too!

Revisiting so many wonderful memories turned that little spark into a flame. I’m excited about Barbie collecting again and I’m anxious to make new memories. To get started, I created a Barbie Wish List board on Pinterest. I’m combing through the Barbie Collectibles archives to pin images of dolls I’d love to have in my collection. It’s been so fun to revisit dolls I remember wanting 10 years ago and catching up on dolls I’ve missed.

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Click image to see what else I’m wishing for (hint, hint, Mom!)

To celebrate both the nostalgia of my Barbie Shelf and my newly rekindled excitement, I’ve decided to buy a doll with my next paycheck. I don’t know which one yet, but I know she’ll be gorgeous. And she’ll be the doll I’ll always remember as being the one that reminded me how fun it is to collect Barbie.

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c.b.w. 2014