Tag Archives: hats

Chipping away at things

So far, I managed to make edits to a chapter of Lanternfish. This is the one my critique partners had recently. Good suggestions this time, and they improved the story quite a bit.

I got the next chapter ready for submission, then sent it off. They only have about a half-chapter left after that. I may add my back material and let them look at it, too.

The next Hat story has been languishing while I finished Lanternfish. I decided to read every single word of it this morning. Never added any new words, but it’s still progress. When I’m ready to write next time, I’ll be up to date.

It rained like crazy this morning. We have ducks swimming above the lawn in the park next door. That’s a lot of water. It’s also giving my Asian Pear tree fits. Fire blight spreads this way, and it has a touch of it. It kills whole trees, but this variety is pretty resistant.

Between projects, I decided to monkey with one of my old cowboy hats. This started life as a custom beaver blend hat. I was always disappointed in it, because it wasn’t quite what I expected. The crown was about 30 degrees crooked, and I had to reshape that myself. It was supposed to be a nice light brown, but arrived in a pumpkin color.

I’ve turned this hat into my lab rat over the years. Recently, I’ve been surfing the web looking for ways to artificially weather hats. They just seem to look better after they break in a little. Out comes my lab rat hat for a bit of experimentation.

I used the tea kettle to steam the crap out of the brim, then used an old round extension cord as a mold to put a kettle roll around it. It looks pretty darned good.

For my next amazing stunt, I used thick instant coffee in a spray bottle to darken it up. This one didn’t work as well as the Internet sold it. It knocked the pumpkin color out, and it’s kind of a buckskin now. (Not horrible) My question is whether it will remain color-fast. Meaning when it rains am I going to have cold coffee running down my neck?

I also spent a couple of bucks on something called fullers earth. This can be used to add some stains for artificial wear and tear. I haven’t tried this, yet. I’ll do it in conjunction with some salt water and olive oil so the colored earth will stick. My attempt will involve lightly using a soda straw to blow the color on in some key places, like the pinch point of the crown. Maybe where I normally handle the brim, etc.

Fiddling around with hats probably doesn’t sound as much fun as writing about root monsters and pirates, but it gives me something to do. Who knows, maybe this hat will be something worth wearing on a camping trip one day.

I still need to go through my short story one more time, but I have a few weeks yet. If there’s any time after I call my parents tomorrow, I will probably tackle a fresh new chapter of the next Hat story.

Hope all of you are having good weekends whatever you’re up to.


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Do you need a pirate hat?

Okay, I suppose nobody needs a pirate hat, but sometimes you just want one. I posted some photos wearing mine the other day as Lorelei talked me into starting on The HMS Lanternfish.

After her encouragement, I actually wrote 3900 words on it. It isn’t much, but it’s a start.

Part of the shtick involved me evolving into a pirate. It was fun, but didn’t show the hat off very well. Today, I want to share some data about the hat.

You might remember way back when I bought my hat stands. I had a guy named Jeff MacKay make them for me.

Jeff did such a good job I wanted him to make me a pirate hat. He has so many options on his website that you can get lost in there for days. This is perfect for someone like me who loves looking at this stuff.

Eventually, I decided upon black, and the base form of Davy Jones’ hat from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Honestly, this is a big hat, but it doesn’t look exceptionally large now that it’s all folded.

That left me with trim, and trimmings to decide upon. I got Jeff via email and he walked me through it. I was thinking of silver or bronze and he convinced me either one would look good. I also wanted a bunch of plumes.

The pictures from the last post don’t really do it justice, so here are some more hat-centric photos.

The plumes didn’t show up in the last post, and I’m pretty pleased with them.

Buttons, trim, and epaulets.

The water trough.

Where it lives in my office. When I’m not committing acts of piracy.

I never did understand how these kind of hats came into style. They don’t seem to offer shade for the eyes, and they pool water up around the brim. This had to be nothing but pure style of the day. I think they look cool though.

I’m kind of a hat junkie and have dozens of them. While I might not wear this one on date night, it makes a pretty neat display piece.

Jeff offers dozens of styles, multitudes of colors, and different materials and finishes. If you want one in Captain Morgan red he can hook you up. Maybe you prefer Captain Barbosa’s style, he’s your man.

You can find Jeff at his website http://www.captjackspiratehats.com/

Or on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CaptainJacksPirateHats

I’m not being compensated in any way. I just think Jeff is a nice guy, and very talented. If you need one of these for your next display booth, tell Jeff I said hi.


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A visit with Lorelei

I got up fairly early this morning. No particular reason today, I guess I was done sleeping.

The dogs needed to wait an extra minute while I opened a new bag of food for them. Typical morning chores, dogs, coffee, then it was time to start checking social media.

That’s when the faintest whiff of sandalwood caught my attention. I stifled a smile, but didn’t do it very well. It’s a signature scent, and can only mean one thing.

The slow clack of high heels is a sound that always makes me focus, and it was coming across my hard surface flooring. Lorelei, and she looked like an image from a magazine. She wore jeans that looked like they were painted on, with a loose fitting summer top. Then there was that huge shock of brunette hair, one befitting a minor goddess.

“What brings the Muse out today?” I asked.

“I’ve been meaning to stop by, but since you’ve been writing a little. I decided to leave you alone. When I spoke with Lisa, she said you haven’t visited the writing cabin in weeks. Your creativity feeds me, you know that. I’m feeling a little neglected.”

“Don’t be like that. I’m editing, no thanks to your damned raven. I’ve been arranging artwork, and scheduling things around publication. I even got a chance to read a couple of books.”

“That’s all lovely, but you need to keep writing. I’ve told you before, publishing is your choice. I only care that you create.”

“And I’ve told you, it would be nice to cover expenses. Book covers and promotional art costs more than I make on some books. Besides, aren’t you supposed to be sending me ideas?”

“What about all those characters you’ve parked on the island? Those were some wonderful characters, and maybe it’s time to tell their stories. There is that couple from Colonial Africa, the cops in the science fiction piece, several others.”

“I don’t know, geez. Summer is a time for more than writing. Besides, getting everything ready to publish is almost a full time job. Then I have to come up with blog tour posts, get the artwork, contact my street team…”

“Yes. You’ve already whined about that. You should try to keep focus. I think you’re a wonderful writer, or I wouldn’t waste my time with you. But… writers have to write.”

“I’ll think about it. Maybe something fun will come to me.”

“That’s all I ask. Maybe one of those storyboards you’re always talking about. Those seem to lead to a test chapter or two.”

“I’ll try. I have all day today and tomorrow.”

“There’s a good writer.” She turned and walked away, wiggling her fingers over her shoulder. “I I I I.”

“What was that you said?”

“I said, goodbye.”

“Oh, yeah. Thanks for stopping by.”

“What about you? Do you have any ideas?”

“Na, mate. Ya gotta come up with this stuff on your own.”

“Well, that was singularly unhelpful.”

“I’m just a prop, mate. But I have faith in you. I feel like you’re on the verge of one o’ them epiphanies.”

“Big words for such a little head.”

“Dun gotta get personal about it. I’m trying to help here.”

“Sorry. Maybe a ghost story or something will make her happy. I feel like I’m close, but don’t quite have it.”

“I got faith in ya, and so does the lady. Maybe that keyboard thing will put some wind in your sails.”

“You’re probably right.”


Filed under Muse

My last hat stand

Some of you might remember me taking delivery of two cool hat stands about a month ago. The third one arrived last night. This one has a cross bone that is kind of cool. Here they are all together.

They are hat stands after all, so this is what they look like after I put them to work. I found the bone to be a great place for one of my bandanas.

Some hats I wear, some are just for looking at. The one on the left is a cool witch’s hat, but I tipped them all back so you could see the stands. I have a theory there is an awesome pirate hat in my future that would look great on one of these. And Captain Jack’s is just the place to acquire such a thing. If you’d like a cool hat stand, or a pirate hat checkout Captain Jack’s and ask for Jeff MacKay. Tell him I said hello.


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How about some free reading

My friend, D. S. Nelson, is the author of the Blake Hetherington Mystery series. I've read one of these, and finished it in one session. She gets bonus points for that at my house. I really enjoyed it, and must return to the series soon.

She also has a great blog, and has recently been writing about making her own hat. Lisa the robot even visited her this year to talk about her hats. This is because Blake Hetherington is a milliner by trade.

Today she's here to offer you a great jumping on point for her books, and it's absolutely free.


First of all I'd like to say a big thank you to Craig for having me over to tell you all about the new Blake Hetherington Mystery. It's great to be here!

I've been writing murder mysteries for four years and the Blake Hetherington Mysteries began in 2013. Blake Hetherington is a gentleman in modern times; a milliner with mystery solving thrust upon him. Delilah is an enthusiastic archaeologist with an unhealthy interest in murder; DS Rob Claringdon is her beau. This unlikely trio is at the heart of this quirky, amusing and quintessentially English, murder mystery series.

The first three adventures feature hats, allotments and voodoo, all in the fictional village of Tuesbury where Blake lives. After a year away from the mystery writing, it's time Blake returned and he'd love to meet you all. Now's your chance to fall in love with a new mystery series and it's absolutely free!

The Visitors Book, is a Blake Hetherington mystery short that will be serialised in eleven parts. It's a newsletter exclusive and it starts on the 14th of December running until the 24th December 2015.

So what's it all about?

Visiting his family in Devon, Blake Hetherington is supposed to be relaxing, but murder just seems to follow him. Picking up the paper in the Bellevue Hotel he discovers the local mayor has died in a fishing accident. The mayors' wife is a family friend and is convinced her husband has been murdered. It isn’t long before Blake is tasked with unravelling the mystery. Why would a man concerned with the environment be catching sea bass out of season? What's an environmental student doing staying in an expensive spa hotel like the Bellevue? And what was the meeting about in the hotel conference room? Can Blake discover the truth that lies in The Visitors Book?

To receive the instalments, absolutely free, all you have to do is sign up to my newsletter here. ( http://eepurl.com/OWBLv)

For murder, mystery and millinery, Blake's your man and to find more of his stories you can download them on Kindle from the US (http://amzn.to/1MWEzeB) and the UK (http://amzn.to/1gXmKv1). Blake's looking forward to meeting you.

Thanks again for having me Craig. I better get back to the editing!!!


I don't know about you guys, but I'm in. A segment per day sounds like fun to me. Check out her other social media sites here:

Website: www.dsnelson.co.uk

Twitter: @WriterDSNelson

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WriterDSNelson

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/WriterDSNelson



Filed under Writing

Lisa makes a guest appearance

Lisa, my robotic assistant, makes an appearance at D. S. Nelson's place today. Dawn writes about a milliner named Blake Hetherington. Blake solves mysteries and makes and sells hats. I've read one of these books and they are quite fun.

Her character makes and sells hats. My character wears hats and shops. It was a natural fit. A hat can say a lot about the character, and even add a bit of mystery under the right circumstances. Please check it out here. Where'd you get that hat?


Filed under Writing

A lost art

I love doing things that are out of style today. In my mind, it’s preserving the past. I’ve written before about my sourdough starter, sauerkraut crock, and even cooking under a hot rock.

I grew up in Northern Nevada, and many of my friends and relatives were, and rarely still are, cowboys. I bought myself a souvenir in Jackson. I have a dozen or more hats to my name, and really didn’t need another one. Then I found a 5x beaver hat for about half what it’s worth.

The store was the Beaver Creek Hat Company. They have their own brand, and I wanted one of those. They didn’t have any that suited me, but there was a Resistol that was perfect.

It was unshaped, and came with a five inch brim. It looked kind of like this, only mine is dark beaver brown.


The first thing I had them do was cut it down to a three inch brim. Big is cool, and all that, but I don’t have the shoulders to pull off that much hat.

A hundred years ago, this was how all hats were sold. Any shape that went into them was up to the owner. Today you can buy them pre-shaped, but where’s the fun in that?

The first shapes likely came from repeatedly grabbing the crown to put your hat on. How you went about it would eventually produce a pinch in front, on the sides, or even in front and back. Pulling the brim down to anchor it in place added a bit of character to the brim. Or there was the alternate method of falling off a horse. That added a few interesting shapes too.

Cowboys are all about style, and eventually wanted to start directing the shape of their hats. These things are like modeling clay of you get them wet. The first custom jobs were usually around a campfire after a quick dunk in the stream. Water troughs served just as well.

Tom Mix, the movie cowboy supposedly shaped his own hats while in the shower. I’ve done this, but prefer the bathtub. We’re going to use today’s preferred method, since the world isn’t ready for my bathtub pictures.

This is my new toy, with the brim already cut down. The first thing I learned is that photography is going to be horrible with a beaver brown hat.

Right now, it’s a perfect style known as a reservation hat. Many of them get worn just like this, but I want a bit more flare.

Note also the tea kettle and the baseball. These are my tools today. That and the kitchen sink.

I’ve worn a lot of Montana Peak style hats, and really like them. These are the crown shapes worn by Mounties, drill sergeants, and highway patrolmen. I may still wind up with that style, but not today.

Today, I’m going for a two dot style. This is the Montana Peak only in the front, with the back remaining unshaped.

The nice thing about a beaver hat is I can reshape it anytime I want. I even have a small steam iron if I want to get right down to it.

Here’s the part where photography let me down. I applied a little sink water to the crown, and went to work with the baseball. This part takes a bit of conviction, but everything can be changed if it isn’t wonderful. I used my baseball to create two dents in the front of the hat. I left about two inches between them for now. I have one with a very narrow pinch point, but my round face prefers a bit of distance between the dents.

I’ll have to step into the sunlight and try another picture. The front dents are in place, and the brim needs a bit of work.

This is where the steam is helpful. Heat also helps soften the felt and makes it more malleable. The brim’s purpose is to keep the sun out of your eyes, and the rain off your neck.

I decided to turn the brim down over my eyes, slightly. I still wanted a touch of cowboy style, and so I turned the sides up ever so slightly.

My photography skills are hampering my blog post. This color isn’t showing up as well as a nice light grey or tan would.

On the drive home today, we saw quite a bit of small stuff. There were rock chucks everywhere. (Western for marmots.) We even saw a bald eagle in a meadow trying to fend off the ravens who wanted to steal his supper. I spotted two great horned owls right after we crossed into Idaho.

There was a weasel at the hotel in the dawn hours, and I tried to take his picture. He was too “weasely.”

We must have seen a dozen road kill barn owls along the way. There was even a dead great horned owl. Now those are the kind of feathers to adorn a hat. Still, with six more hours to drive, I never took the time to score an owl feather.

Still too dark to get much of a photo. I can tell the brim needs a bit more of a “smile” from side to side. I may work on it after it dries out.

I have a lot of crown available too. There is plenty of room to stove in the back and give it a nice shape. Right now, I have to feel it for a few days. With my big beard, a tall crown works just fine for me.

I bought the hat for me. It would have made a better blog post if I’d have bought a grey one.

I like the beaver brown, and it would look great with a narrow band of hammered copper. I don’t have one lying around, and may have to live without it. Although, my brother could probably make one. Hmmmm?

Have any of you ever shaped a cowboy hat? Am I the last person in America that still wears them?


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Just because it’s Monday

I usually post a little something on Mondays. This Monday is a bit different, because of the time change. I’m writing on my Wednesday day off. That usually leads to a visit to the writing cabin.

So we’re back to Monday. I toyed with the idea of why I hate the banning of certain words based on political correctness. There’s news today about an effort to turn the word “bossy” into a hate word. I’m feeling the hate already, but not for the reason they intended.

This line of reasoning would lead me into racial slurs, and other words with new political meanings. I think discretion is where I’ll stand today. Maybe some other time. Too heavy tonight.

I decided to tell everyone how “retro” I really am. Do any of these symptoms sound like you?

I have a box of antique straight razors I used to shave with. I used nothing else for about eight years before swearing off shaving alltogether. I never have used anything but bay rum afterward either.

I have half a dozen pocket watches. All of them require winding and don’t have batteries. I wore one of them daily for about ten years. The others were all used sporadically.

I recently showed everyone my sourdough starter, Tituba. I also showed you how I occasionally use a rock to cook with.

I drove clients around throughout the 1990s in my 1956 Cadillac Sedan deVille. I used to show it in places like Hot August Nights, in Reno. I sold it, but found it a good home.

I’ve made drinkable mead in a plastic bucket once.

I have a wonderful pickling crock to make fermented vegetables. I really like the sauerkraut it makes, and want to try kimchi one day. I made the stomping bat for kraut myself out of a root I cut along the Boise River.

I love foraging, and gather wild fruit, berries, and mushrooms every year.

I hunt and fish on occasion too. (Using side by side shotguns) I only got out once last year, but there was ruffed grouse with wild oyster mushrooms for dinner that night.

I have several six shooters, and made my own grips for all of them. One is even a cap and ball Colt Navy.

I have a gold pan and I’m not afraid to use it.

I have a new fountain pen that I’m writing character studies down with these days.

I have a hat rack with about a dozen nice hats on it. (There are more in the closet) I wear them all too.

I still wear glasses. I’ve never looked into contacts or LASIK.

Some of this stuff finds its way into my fiction. I love retro things like maps and compasses, and know how to use them.

My retro attitude doesn’t completely define me though. I’m writing this on my iPad, which I upgraded to OS 7.1 an hour ago. The iPhone is upgrading right now. My truck has almost all the modern cool stuff on it. ( no GPS though)

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I have life experiences. These items aren’t just collectables. I’ve used all of them. I think this helps with my fiction. Have any of you turned your eccentricities into part of your fiction? Tell me about it in the comments, and it doesn’t have to be retro stuff.


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