Author Archives: Catherine E. McLean

About Catherine E. McLean

Author, Writing Instructor, Workshop Speaker. Home Web page for Readers is and for Writers it's - I write tales of phantasy realms and stardust worlds.

Belated St. Pat’s Day, sort-of?

DARQ:  Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all who celebrate it!

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Of course, no outfit of mine is ever complete without some bling on the shoes!

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CATHERINE:  Due to computer problems – and the wiping clean of my hard drive to reinstall Windows 10 anew – I have spent the past week trying to get up and running again.  I lost my photo editing program (long story) and had to revert to what was available that came with the computer to crop the pictures. Finding my way through files and learning alternate programs took more time than I realized it would.

Darq will be back for an Easter greeting, so stop by then, or better yet, follow this blog and be automatically notified of the changes.

**********Connect with Catherine E. McLean***********

Author, Writing Instructor, and Workshop Speaker at

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Posted by on March 17, 2018 in Uncategorized


Valentine’s Day 2018

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Nothing very fancy,

just wishing everyone a

Happy Valentine’s Day!

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Catherine and Darq

~~~~ What will Darq be wearing for St. Patrick’s Day?

Stop by March 17 and find out!

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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Uncategorized


Valentine’s Day 2018

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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Uncategorized


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An Island New Year 2018

Catherine’s monitor screen lights up.

DARQ:  Hi and Happy New Year’s Day. I’m still on the island and still enjoying the warmth of the sand beneath my feet. And, yes, Catherine, before you have apoplexy, I shucked my velvet slipper-shoes to enjoy a dawn walk on my little stretch of beach.


CATHERINE: So you celebrated all night?

DARQ: Yes, and it was a marvelous party with fireworks, food, and all sorts of libations available at three different bars around and in the swimming pools . . . Just a warm, peaceful, wonderful way to begin a new year of being on your planet Earth.

CATHERINE: And the dress? What about your dress? 

DARQ: You did a great job. The gown was all I had envisioned from the sketch I gave you out of that Erte fashion book. 

Erte JPEG 2017 Xmas gown 

CATHERINE: I know what the sketch looked like, what I want to see is you wearing the thing!

DARQ: Okay. Ta-dah!


CATHERINE: Wow!  With your hair down and that flower accenting your tresses, you look lovely!

(A loud yawn ensues from Darq), then she says:  I’m going to head on in and catch a few Z’s. All too soon I have to leave this paradise. You can expect me at the farm by week’s end.

CATHERINE: We’ve got snow here, about 6″ but the temps are going to be single digits for the coming week with below zero wind chills. Bundle up  and dress warm.

DARQ: Hmm. Maybe I can wheedle a few more days out of this island stay.

CATHERINE: Coward. You can’t overstay your welcome no matter how warm the tropics are!

 DARQ chuckles, then says: So true. I’ll see you soon. Enjoy your New Year’s Day!

(The connection ends.)


To one and all who visit this blog, Darq and I wish you

A Very Happy New Year’s Day and wonderful 2018!

Catherine E. McLean


Darq will return for Valentine’s Day wearing a new outfit. Be sure to visit.

****Note to Sewers and Crafters – Darq’s outfit is a sparkling velvet fabric that is lined with a shimmering silver-gray satin. This is the first time I’ve used a backdrop twice, but I liked my sister’s handiwork with the frosting for the palms. It’s very cold  here in Western Pennsylvania and 6″ of snow on the ground. Besides, when I look at this tropical setting, I feel warmer and thinking about Spring.

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Posted by on January 1, 2018 in Uncategorized


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An Island Christmas Greeting!

Clicks signal an incoming message and then —

DARQ:  Hello, Catherine! I wish you the Merriest of Christmases.

CATHERINE:  Same to you Darq!

DARQ: I hesitate to expound on the weather here, well, it’s heavenly —

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CATHERINE: Oh, how I envy you being in the tropics. Hey, what’s with the bear?

DARQ: Actually, it’s bears, plural. You see, the theme of this island getaway holiday is Christmas Bears. I’m holding a stuffed bear in my right hand, a genuine Teddy Bear, and in my other hand is a bear of a gingerbread cookie. The cookie-bear is holding a green striped candy cane.

CATHERINE: How can you be sure that you have a genuine Teddy Bear? Stuffed bears are just stuffed bears.

DARQ: Because the ribbon around its neck says Teddy Bear. Beside, the MIB — my Men In Black bodyguard detail gave this cute little bear to me as a Christmas gift.  Speaking of Christmas gifts, I received your gift, Catherine  —  the Erte-Inspired Creation is gorgeous! I can hardly wait until New Year’s Eve to wear it.

CATHERINE: I’m glad you liked the gown. So when do you leave for the New Year’s Eve party? And is it in some alpine-ski area?

DARQ: No. I’m celebrating New Years right here in the tropics!

CATHERINE: Lucky, lucky, you. I get snow and single digits. Brrrrr!

Darq chuckles.

CATHERINE:  Okay, before you go imbibe more punch or frolic on the beaches, let’s see the shoes.

Darq’s cheeks flush.


DARQ: Ah . . . Well, you see, it’s like this —

2017 DARQ barefeet sand IMG_6786_1

Catherine gasps before saying:  OHMYGOD — you’re barefoot!

DARQ: Yes, I am.  You can blame it on the MIBs.


DARQ: They talked my host into resurfacing this section of beach outside my guest bungalow to resemble the sands of my homeworld. At home, I never wear shoes on the beach. No one does. But I did put on a new coat of nail polish. (Darq wiggles her toes.)

CATHERINE: Blinged out toenails. No two toes the same color.

DARQ: Of course not. Readers of JEWELS OF THE SKY wouldn’t expect the heroine to deviate from that little quirk, now would they?

CATHERINE: No they wouldn’t.

DARQ: Oh, I have to go. It’s time for our Christmas luau.  Merry Christmas!

CATHERINE: Merry Christmas!

(The connection ends.)

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Darq and I wish you a wonderful Christmas Day! 

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Stop by New Year’s Day to see Darq’s party gown, another Erte-inspired creation.


NOTE TO CRAFTERS AND SEWERS:  Darq’s muumuu is a silk-polyester border print,the design is a composite made after browsing Pinterest for ideas.

As to the palm trees, that’s not paint on them –  it’s cake frosting. My sister, who loves to decorate cakes came for lunch and a visit. She also brought her cache of frosting tips and jars of food colorings.  I whipped up a batch of simple frosting (powdered sugar, shortening, and milk) and divided up the mix into four bowls. My sister then piped the bark and leaves using leaf tips.  She had the easy part, the frosting of the palms.

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The hard part was mine  — scaling and cutting-carving the palm forms out of corrugated cardboard, then reinforcing the trunk sections and fronds with Popsicle sticks to keep the thin areas rigid.

Once dry, I slid the palms onto the cloud board, used brads (through the coconut area) to secure the trees to the cloud board.

By the way, those are real rocks, sand, gravel, and pebbles used for the “beach.”

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Posted by on December 25, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Happy Thanksgiving 2017


DARQ via Skype: I am at an undisclosed high-rise complex in a warm and sunny city of the USA, and as you can see, I have a great view of the Thanksgiving Day Parade!  To those who celebrate this holiday, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

CATHERINE: Thank you,  Darq. Say, what’s that blue drink in your hand?  Isn’t it a bit early in the day to be drinking alcohol?

DARQ (chuckles): Yes, it is mid-day and way too early for me to imbibe. This, my friend, is a blue fruit drink called Blackberrygrape Tea. (Psst – click on the link and get the recipe!)

CATHERINE: Ah, so you’re drinking a fancy iced tea?

DARQ: Indeed I am. 

CATHERINE: Eating cookies too from that great big bowl of them?

DARQ: Only one, well, maybe two. Perhaps three . . .

CATHERINE: Careful Darq or you’ll get crumbs on your shoes. My, my, my –  those realy are some shoes. Not the usual bling?

DARQ: Actually, I settled for the one that matched the colors in my tunic. 

CATHERINE: Well, they are colorful.

DARQ (looking out the window as another balloon bobs by):  You have a good Thanksgiving with your family, Catherine, and I’ll see you after the New  Year.

CATHERINE: You’re not spending Christmas with me?

DARQ: No, I’m going to “the islands.”  And don’t even think of asking me which ones.

CATHERINE: But you will send pictures?

DARQ:  Of course! Oooo . . . Here comes an equestrian group decked out in silver saddles and bling! Lots of bling!

***the connection terminates***

*******NOTE TO CRAFTERS & SEWERS: The tunic was inspired by a jacket I saw in a catalogue. It was interesting piecing the front together from four strips of different fabrics, plus a silver-black trim strip, and attaching the red-orange and blue grosgrain ribbons at an angle.  The pants are denim. The shoes were an experiment of sewing two different colors together so the shoes would reflect the colors in the tunic.



and –  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Uncategorized


A Prairie Halloween

CATHERINE: This Halloween finds Darq in the Old West at some undisclosed ranch where the theme for the holiday was “A Prairie Halloween.”  Costumes had to date prior to 1860.  Enjoy her photos and their captions.


DARQ: Here I am at one of the mini-chuck wagons and among the decorations. Did you spot the skeleton and arrows!

Most of the food and goodies were served on wagon tailgates or from tables made of sawhorses with boards across them. Really rustic. A lot of items were cooked over open fires.


Food aside, there were costumes. Take a look at the outfit Catherine made for me –


Oddly enough, wearing a bonnet was not optional, but mandatory. I was leery at first, but one look in a mirror and I loved the bonnet. I think I look rather cute. I got lots of favorable comments on not only my bonnet but my outfit and my daisy earrings and cameo.


Here’s a better look at my costume, which is a blouse and skirt. As was the custom way back when, the back of the skirt is a bit longer, like a mini-train.  Of course, being a modern woman from a different planet, I found the skirt a real pain to navigate through gates and doorways AND hang onto a purse. Well, not so much a purse as a Trick or Treat bag to take goodies back to my suite.

Catherine patterned the costume from pictures she found on Pinterest. Of course, back in the 1860’s a woman wore a petticoat and bloomers – or were they called pantaloons? Whatever. It’s a lot of fabric to wear but, you know what, when the square dancing got going, skirts were whirling  (including mine), and I think every ‘lady’ was glad of the underwear! Here’s a peek at mine –



The bloomers were nothing fancy but this view shows my shoes. The shoes have a touch of bling. Just a touch. Oh, and they are ankle high, which was great considering all the dust stomped up and those little brown things called ‘road apples’ dotting the barn yard.

I’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving in the city, can’t tell you which city because my escorts, the Men in Black (MIBs for short), have yet to tell me which one. I do know that it will involve a big parade. Until then – IMG_6637_1

Have a Happy Halloween!

****Note to Crafters and Sewers from Catherine – I had a blast making the chuck wagon. It’s body is a cardboard box that I turned inside out so I got the brown side up, and then applied some paint to make it look like wood sides. The tailgate is just a piece of cardboard shoved under one of the box’s side flaps and held in place with jewelry chain (from my jar of left-over findings).

As to the wagon wheels and undercarriage? I went online to get images of wagon wheels. A black and white picture had the best angle. I copied it and colored it in, then glued it to a wood ‘soccer ball’ disk (which was the right size but painted orange!)

The undercarriage, the part that connects the axle (a piece of wood nailed between two  soccer ball disks) to the underside of the wagon box necessitated cutting a couple pieces of balsa wood (a blank plaque shape of wood) and gluing them together with a honeycomb piece of cardboard between the wood pieces. That allowed me to skewer a flat toothpick into the cardboard and then skewer the top of the toothpicks into the bottom of the cardboard wagon.

I shoved wire into the top of the box to make the ribs to hold the canvas top, which was a piece of muslin. Jewelry findings (rings) and some black headed straight pins anchor the ‘canvas.’

When I came across the skeleton, I remembered Indian attacks and couldn’t pass up the idea of a skeleton at the party. The arrows are fancy toothpicks with the front end trimmed off and into an arrowhead. The barrel is actually a bank that I had kept from my youth. It even has a couple pennies rattling around at the bottom of it.

As to Darq’s outfit — It is 100% cotton quilting fabric and muslin. The photos don’t do the front pleat of the green print over the front striped panel. Of all the doll patterns I have kept from when I made doll clothes for my sister and daughter, I didn’t have a prairie bonnet pattern. I went on the Internet and found pictures of the pattern pieces, in French! But, hey, I’m used to figuring out what needs to go where. And using the computer to resize the pieces helped.

Darq and I wish you a Happy Halloween. See you for the Thanksgiving update.

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Posted by on October 30, 2017 in Uncategorized