Crochet Inspiration in the Movies: The Polly Belt

While watching an episode of Mission: Impossible, the 60's TV series, I noticed Cinnamon's choice of a navy blue dress suit and lemon yellow accessories.

Now regularly, I am not a fan of navy blue --in fact, I'm not a fan of blue itself. It's a bit overused. But then again, that's my opinion and I don't expect anyone to agree with me. I personally love olive greens and mustard yellows, colors most people call gross. But as a costume critic, I have an open mind to colors in general and what looks good on whom.

But back to the blue. When I saw how neatly these two color choices looked together, I had to admit I liked it very much.

Blue and yellow are good choices to put together for contrast because they are opposites on the color scale. (For another example of what I mean, see picture on this post).

By accenting a dark blue suit with a bright yellow, the costume designer made Cinnamon's outfit pop!

Needless to say, I was inspired. And though I do not have a blue suit to sport, I made my own version of Cinnamon's lemon belt. Now if only I could find some lemon yellow pumps...

Using a single skein of Patons Grace 100% mercerized cotton yarn that I thankfully had on hand from a former project, I set about making a belt that I hoped wouldn't be too long or too thick.

I was very happy with the outcome, which isn't always the case. I find I'm rarely happy with the outcome of my crochet designs because I feel like they could always be better. But in this case, I was happy. Maybe it's because I didn't have many problems. Thank God it came together so well.

Previously, I had bought a few D-ring belt buckles that I was intending for skinny belts. They were my only option until I found this buckle I had salvaged from a belt I had thrown away. This one is larger and worked out perfectly!

I call it The Polly Belt! The pattern is available for free at Crochet Spot. Or if you would like one (or more!) made for you, you can contact me through my email: OceansAmy(at)gmail(dot)com.

So what do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

In My Backyard - Issue #14 - Tough Oriole Love

Baltimore Oriole, Adult Male

Only in the past few years have we been blessed with these beautiful birds. The Baltimore Oriole has since been a yearly occupant. We're getting better opportunities to capture them with our cameras each year. The picture above was taken near the beginning of this spring when we noticed their recently built nest. Unfortunately, the Lumix camera I use was unable to zoom any closer.

While sitting in the living room this morning reading, I heard a raucous outside and turned to see two male Orioles fighting right by the window. They took off and we exclaimed over the wonderful chance to see these beauties up close. I went back to reading but was interrupted once again by clear Oriole chirping. Mum turned around and said excitedly for me to look. I jumped up and was thrilled to see this.

Male Orioles, like many of God's creatures, are noticeably more brilliant in color than females. The Baltimore Oriole male has a black head, neck, tale feathers, and wings, with white bands on the wings. Their main body is normally a yellow-orange, being redder at the neck and more yellow down the tail.

The female oriole is quite different. Her main body is a warm gray while her chest down to her tale feathers are a brighter yellow. She also has white bands on her wings.

Juveniles share the females coloring only in more muted tones until they reach maturity.

An Orioles beak is unique in that it enables them to feed on nectar like a hummingbird. That is why you might find them at your hummingbird feeder and you can buy Oriole feeders specifically made for the bigger birds.

The chick sat on a twig in the fence for quite a while, at first waiting patiently for the return of its father and then not so patiently. We had our cameras at the ready prepared for some amazing pictures of both adult and baby. But we noticed in the chicks impatience and agitation it was trying to fly. And we soon realized why the parent hadn't returned.

After some time the chick flapped its wings, flailed about wildly and managed to work itself onto the top of the fence where it perched for a few minutes before getting up enough courage to fly off into the trees.

The wise parents knew exactly what the chick wanted and exactly what the chick needed. In not coming to their child's cries they showed it its strength and stretched its confidence.

This is a wonderful example of life and the way God treats us. And consequently, the way we learn. We might whine and fuss that this isn't easy, but our Heavenly Father knows what we can handle and quietly waits for us to "try our wings". When we do, we learn what He was trying to teach us and that we can handle more than we would have thought.

What if God gave in to our whining and crying? He wouldn't be much of an all-wise Father then, would He?

We never know just how much we can do until we trust God and try.

The Disney Inspired Cephalopod

Courtesy of Ocean Explorer

Of all the creatures seen by NOAA's Okeanos Explorer and those of us onshore, the Dumbo Octopus doubtlessly wins the award of the most adorable!

Courtesy of E/V Nautilus

My first encounter with the Dumbo Octopus was in 2013 from the footage taken by the E/V Nautilus in the Gulf. The species was small, orange, and typically translucent. We watched in amazement as it splayed its webbed tentacles wide and floated with the current in the view of the ROV Hercules' camera. Then our amazement turned to amusement as the ROV pilot endeavored to capture one of these animals with one of the Hercules' mechanized arms .

In contrast, the Okeanos earlier expedition this year exposed us to a surprisingly different species. The following is a line up of stills from the Okeanos' live footage showing a blue-colored Dumbo Octopus, first on the ocean bottom and then casually migrating into the water column. Apparently, this gentle creature was undaunted by the ROV's enormity unlike many crabs.

Courtesy of Ocean Explorer

Courtesy of Ocean Explorer

Courtesy of Ocean Explorer

Courtesy of Ocean Explorer

Though its oblong body may suggest otherwise, this cephalopod is in fact of the octopus family, more specifically, an umbrella octopus. Like all octopus, Dumbo Octopus have a mantle, siphon, eight tentacles, and a beak for eating, among other things. But there are some surprising elements to these creatures that other octopus do not share. For instance, like the squid, some species of this octopus have a shell made of chitin within its mantle. Exceptions to this may be the Flapjack Devilfish, which is also an umbrella octopus resembling something of a jelly.

Another difference is the presence of its characteristic fins. Visually similar to Dumbo's big ears in the Disney cartoon, this octopus uses its fins to maneuver throughout the water column, as well as a siphon, staying fairly near the bottom but remaining in between enough to categorize it as benthopelagic. It happens to be the deepest dwelling octopus known to man, reaching as far as 7,000 meters.

As I mentioned before, there are a variety of species. Some, like the orange one in the pictures above, are bright and quite translucent, a quality many deep-sea dwellers share, while the blue-white species shows very little translucency.

What was particularly interesting was the distinctness in behavior just between these two species. The orange octopus floated into view and quickly spread its tentacles wide and remained in this position until an attempt was made to capture it.

The blue-white species on the other hand sucked its tentacles in close to its body and proceeded to observe its intruders in what the explorers themselves found extraordinarily peculiar.

The fact that this animal is so cute is surprising. Most creatures at such depths are not seen nor exposed to light and consequently have garish features. Why God decided to create one so unlike its contemporaries is beyond me, but then again, that's not too unusual. God's ways are often a mystery to man!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to leave me a comment telling me what you think!

Facts, Research, and Historical Fiction Novels

Torchy Blane, newspaper reporter in film.
I like facts and I like getting all the details. There's just something satisfying about knowing you've covered all your bases. Unfortunately, my love of facts and details -- not to mention accuracy -- causes me to occasionally overload my readers; I'll admit it. But no one said I already know all there is to know about good writing, did they?

Because of my factual fascination I find myself ready to critique anything and everything with a touch of history. We might as well admit it right now, the key to the future lies in the past (now don't quote me on that because I think I heard it from a former teacher).

There is one area in particular that I am hard on: historical fiction novels.

Growing up I absorbed historical fiction (HF) novels written by legends like Gilbert Morris and Janette Oak. My taste in authors in this genre has eventually gravitated more towards Michael Phillips and Judith Pella because of the depth at which they write. In the more recent chapter of my life I really enjoy Davis Bunn and others that write in a similar genre as well as the former authors I mentioned. And I still love a good classic (I would love to recommend some to you!).

Because I've enjoyed HF so much in the past, and been exposed to varying degrees of depth and accuracy, I'm a hard critic.

Sadly what today's authors of historical fiction call factual is often weak and highly infulenced by modern philosophy. I recall watching the 1970's film Chisum and thinking how the women's hair and makeup had a noticable touch of the era in the which the film was filmed instead of the time period of the story. Those of us who aspire to write historical fiction should be careful of where we come from and ask ourselves, "Would people of that day and age even consider that mindset?"

The philosophy most wide spread in period novels is feminism. In today’s culture it is embraced as freedom for women and a blessing to our society. Without getting into the subject itself, it is often that a female character in a period novel exhibits feministic leanings and desires despite the fact that feminism was as distant an ideal as electronics and exploring space.

Here's an example of what I mean:

It's 1850 in Louisiana and Annette, at age 20, rebels against her parents wishes to marry and instead runs away with the dreams of one day owning her own steamboat.

Outlandish dreams are understandable for a child but age should mature reason.

I ask authors, why does adventure only come to the women who defy culture?

Understandably, it is hard for those of us living in this age of equality and freedom to understand life in the past (though for some cultures this still exists) where women were limited to certain occupations, give or take, depending upon the era. But isn't that the reason we have chosen to write in this area?

An idea might begin with a single question: what would that character have done in that society? What would his/her wishes and desires be?

It's purely speculation from there on but try in your speculation to be authentic, real, and as contemporary as you can from with the knowledge you can have. You must be true to history if you expect to learn from it.