As we each awaken this morning, a new year greets us–January 1st, 2012. It is the start of the calendar year and the opportunity for a fresh start and new beginnings.
One thing new that you will notice right away is that I’ve redesigned my blog header/banner. Since 2012 will be the Year of “The Hobbit” films–and what will surely be an even more amazing year for the exquisitely talented British Actor Richard Armitage–I incorporated Richard Armitage’s current Thorin Oakenshield portrait (from the recent Hobbit movie trailer) as well as portraits of him in several of his past roles. These roles are (from left to right) John Thornton in North & South (2004), Sir Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood (2006 – 2009), Lucas North in Spooks (2008-2010), and John Porter in Chris Ryan’s Strike Back series 1 (2010). These are but a small sampling of Mr. Armitage’s prolific character portrayals over the last twelve years or so.
And anyone who uses Photoshop will appreciate the image compositing and image sampling that I did to achieve the desired effect on my new blog header banner. Whew! Although a graphics trick of mine is to: 1) mask, crop, and color correct photos in Photoshop (create a gif file for those images that you have masked out the background of an image so that you can lay it on top of another image’s background), 2) import these modified images into Powerpoint for layering and adding text, 3) then copy the layered images and paste everything back into a new file in Photoshop to create the final jpeg file. For Photoshop geekettes like me who want to know even more. The background images of Thorin in my new blog header banner are from the recent Hobbit movie trailer: image # 12 (the left two thirds of the image that I sampled and extended to the left), and image #17 (the right hand third of the image where I sampled the door and fudged that a bit to create a consistent background. Then I added the text and the other photos. And after I was done, this is my new blog header banner. Et voila!
And because I always say why make just one new banner when I can make two banners–Ha!–I also created a new signature/wallpaper for me to use as an additional graphic on the days that I am sharing one of my love story chapters with you. Happily the elements in this signature were not as complicated to achieve as the blog header banner was. The inkwell (http://www.graciehill.com/Images/Writers%20Pen.jpg) was easy. The only tricky part was the rose that I masked out from a crush of roses (http://www.walldesk.net/pdp/1024/09/05/Budding-Romance.jpg), saved this new image as a gif file, and then I superimposed the rose onto the black background–layering it in Powerpoint. So, I hope that you also like this result:
As always, my grateful thanks to RANet (www.RichardArmitageNet.com) for their wonderful news, pictures, and other media resources pertaining to Richard Armitage that I used to create parts of the banners above. Ali is the superb Administrator of RANet–a real one woman extRAvanganza. Ali, you’re the best!
Lest you think I am stalling about what 2012 holds for me that is new or a beginning, here are a few things on my “to do” list for 2012 (in no particular order):
* Select more clothes to be taken in so they fit me better because of my weight loss. I like the classic styling of my clothes–they are a little on the prim and girly side with some flower print tea party dresses or feminine dressy business attire (I don’t do office casual, Ha!) for my work at the university. So it makes sense for me to have them taken in rather than go through the hassle of buying new clothes. I still have a ways to go on the weight loss that I would like to achieve–slow and steady and healthily. But as I said in yesterday’s essay, I plan to “sleep” the weight away. Ha! Mind you, I eat sensibly already. It’s just the exercise part that I have to work on–finding something low impact to do in the Winter time due to my arthritis. They closed my pool–I like swimming laps–so, I have to find a new pool. And I should add that I am by no means a svelte girl after losing 70 pounds–nor will I ever be probably with more weight loss. I was always an “apple”. So my motto is, power to curvy woman kind!
* I think I mentioned yesterday that I have to get back to starting my dissertation research project. Starting in January, I’m taking a Saturday class to flesh out my dissertation research project proposal–basically what will become the first three chapters of my dissertation–and then hopefully conduct my research in the coming year about the recruitment and retention of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). I’ve worked for over twenty years helping with educational outreach programming in this area as well as conducting some pilot studies along the way. So, wish me luck!
* That said, I owned up to my dissertation advisors that the past nine months or so I’ve been focusing on my creative writing–and now this blog. Of course, they wanted met to stop that right away and only focus on the dissertation. Take heart, I told them I’m a package deal–and the blog and my creative writing stays. They are my bliss–next to my hubby, of course. But, I promised to work into my schedule a reasonable portion of academic task writing (http://www.laurelkallenbach.com/images/webdesignroll.jpg) for my dissertation. So, Thursdays through Saturdays for me the next six months, I will try to devote to my dissertation–and then the other days of the week I’ll be blogging and writing as usual. Though, I’m sure I’ll be checking in on my blog and Facebook every day for the unofficial RA fan group I belong to and that I am the Admin on (RAFN)–though I’m hoping some of my gal pals there with help me out a bit. It’s just that my posts on my dissertation work days will by necessity be “leaner” and shorter. Ha! All the while I will continue to work full time at the university and tend to my wonderful hubby. I’m hoping to have my dissertation research project completed, and the dissertation paper/book written and approved such that I can graduate in 2014 with my Ph.D. It will be odd to think of myself as Dr._________ (Gratiana Lovelace is my nom de plume). We’ll see what happens after that.
* Back to my bliss–my creative writing. As I have mentioned before, I have over 50 script stories now that I work on in rotation. And everyone has been very kind and encouraging to me about them. Several of you have been urging me to seek publication for my stories. That is a lovely dream of mine and I welcome your suggestions about how to go about doing that. I have shared my “shorter” stories with you here. But I have several 100 plus pages and even 200 plus pages stories that are too long to serialize here. And I would really like to find an outlet for them. So if you’re a published author and can make some suggestions to me–including contacts in the publishing world–I would be ever so grateful.
* I would love to have some time to make a concerted push to purge some more items in our house. I don’t know about you, but there is no such thing as a paperless society and the mountain of mail that comes in is staggering! The advertisements alone could fill up a landfill. But, between our recycling efforts and my hubby’s scrounging/finding activities, more items seem to come into our home than goes out. Maybe I’ll have to suggest that for every new item–bicycles usually–he brings to our home, two items have to go out. Ha! Then, of course, I have to do my bit, too, by shredding old business files and sending them on their merry way. Ha!
* I hope to look forward to meeting some of my Armitage World gal pals in real life in the coming year. We have such fun chatting together–we’re a really giggly bunch when everyone gets going and the puns, buns, peaches, and grapes get thrown about. Ha! We would love to all go to NYC and The Hobbit premiere–if only to stand far back in the crush of people on the red carpet sidelines, not being able to see anything or anyone because we’re too short (I’m 5 ft 2.5 inches tall). Although, with some people being quite tall themselves, we might just be able to catch a glimpse of the top of a certain gentleman’s head (http://richardarmitagecentral.co.uk/d/262727-2/Koolkat6.jpg). Ha! And since I’m dreadfully apprehensive about flying, I would take the train–my hubby has promised to help me figure out the Amtrak schedules. Ha! So, I have to save my pennies for that one. And some of us don’t live too far apart from each other. So even if we don’t get to go to NYC, we might be able to meet up and have a chat over a cuppa, as a gal pal of mine refers to it.
And here are some “general” New Year’s Resolutions. For 2012, I resolve to (please suggest others):
(image, right, found at http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/New-Years-Resolutions-2012.jpg)
*Forget weight loss fads and focus on being healthy at any weight;
* Plan to quit trying to quit something and instead, plan to start something;
* Recognize that “I” am a wonderful person. Snap!
* Recognize in someone else that they are a wonderful person. John Standring, here I come; (of course, I’m already taken–with my John Standring hubby);
* Seek to do something that I have never done before, or not lately–you choose;
* “Sing the body electric”–batteries not required, just toot your own horn;
Here’s hoping you have a great New Year’s Day, a great week, a great month, and a great year in 2012! New Year’s Cheers! Grati ;->