Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Time Travelling

We seem to have been skipping around time the last week or so.


Tallahassee has it's first Steampunk Expo.  Steampunk is an aesthetic based on the Victorian style, brought into the unknown future.  Think of what a rocketship would look like if it was designed by the Victorians, and you get the idea.

To be honest, it wasn't much, and we really weren't expecting much.  That sounds cold--but it's a movement that's just getting started in Tallahassee and we wanted to support it.  But there was a group from Jacksonville that brought some pretty cool stuff (note:  lamp parts seem to be useful in creating future weapons)

I was particularly taken by this little killer (I assume robotic) prawn.


A few days later we jumped from the Victorian future to the 1940's as once again we fired up the jeep and drove in the Veteran's Day Parade.  It's always gratifying to see the turnout--the crowds were estimated at over 20,000.  And, of course, I had to ham it up as Rosie the Riveter.

1500 YEARS AGO, Yesterday

What goes up, must come down.  Sunday Liz and I gave a talk to the Panhandle Archeological Society on the Nasca era pottery and textiles on display at the Museum of Fine Arts on campus.  It was a last hurrah--this exhibit's time is over, and it's someone else's turn.  It was rather surprising on how fast it went--when you're setting an exhibit up, there are a lot of decisions about how to arrange the stands, what goes on what stand, what angle everything should be, the background, the lighting.  Taking down--well, you just (carefully!) take it down.  The covers come off, the pottery gets nestled into bubble wrap on a cart to be rolled down to the storage shelve, the textiles get wrapped in tissue and back into their drawers, and that's that--takes about an hour.   I snapped one last picture before the students helping with the next exhibit got out the putty knives to peel the sign off the wall (the letters are decals).

I left before they took my name off--I had rather liked having it up there.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nostalgia for Our First Home

You never forget your first home.
Of course, I have had many homes in my life--when your Dad's in the military you move around a lot, and "home" is where you happen to be living at the time. (Mom had a great talent for making a home--Dad once told her that he could pitch a tent in the middle of a desert and she would go "cluck cluck cluck" and make a nest).

But *my* first home was our apartment in Alumni Village--the married/graduate student apartment complex off the FSU campus.  We only lived there about a year, then we upgraded to a slightly (very slightly) larger apartment, and then had moved on to have our second anniversary in Texas when Bob got his commission.

But I have always loved that little apartment--*my* first home.  The Village will be torn down in a year or so.  The occupancy is down, and the buildings old (they were already seeming a bit shabby 40 years ago).  They don't have the amenities most renters require now--the laundry room is a few blocks away, there's no WiFi or pool or gym.   I'm not sure if they every had a prime, but if so, they're past it.

Now that the apartment is unoccupied, Bob got permission to go visit it.  He's been there doing inspections over the years, but it was my first time back.  Suddenly I felt 20 again, and a newlywed (well, almost a newlywed--we did a shocking thing at the time and moved in two weeks before we were married!)

Our was the one on the top floor. 

I do see a bit of an air conditioner in this picture.  We didn't have one--we couldn't afford to buy one, and if we had, we wouldn't have been able to afford the power bill to run it.  We just sweated a lot.

I felt a little trepidation about opening that door.  Sometime you should just keep your fond memories intact and not besmirch them with reality.  But guess what?  It's rather a nice little apartment.  Brighter than I remember it (somehow I remember more gray).   And there had been the "damn you" wall in the living room--the one with the big hole where a previous owner had stuck an air conditioner and  covered with a chunk of plywood, with nasty water stains all down the wall.  I'd stare at that ugliness and say "damn you damn you damn you" and finally hung a cheap Indian print bedspread over it)

But the room I kept returning to, that made my heart give a little pitty pat, was my kitchen.

Bob was 20 then, and- like all young men- ravenous.  And I liked to cook.  We were pretty broke, but beans and rice and dubious rolls of hamburger and cabbage and spaghetti  could make some pretty good meals.  You could get boxes of bacon "ends and pieces"--mostly fat, but they flavored a lot.  I had a new husband to cook for, and sometimes friends, and had my parents come up for Thanksgiving dinner in *our* home.  

And it's still a fine little kitchen.  When the Village was built 50+ years ago, it was assumed that the occupants would cook. There is a full-size fridge, and a double sink, and some counter space.  Heck--it's not much smaller than the one at Rob and Jeff's house.   And it's much bigger than some I've seen in the modern "luxury" apartments--the ones I call half-assed kitchens because they're only big enough to get half your ass into them.  A half-sized fridge and a microwave and that's about it. Not the center of a home.

I wish we could have stayed a little longer.  I would have liked to cook another dinner in there.  I could still live there for awhile, until all our stuff and cats caught up with us.  I laugh because the little cottage that I use for my studio is about the same size of this apartment.

I could sigh, and say "we were happy then."  We were--but we're also happy now, with a house and a cottage and a big barn full of too much stuff, and cats and chickens and peacocks and other assorted creatures, and the detritus of many hobbies scattered around.  It's been a long time since that little apartment.

I still like that kitchen.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Dress has Launched!

During all the busy-ness of the Howl, another set of busy was taking place behind the scenes--Natasha (director of Education at the Museum) had to plan her wedding to fall between the Howl and the Fall Farm Days (which is tomorrow). Rob and Jeff were sort of the wedding planners, taking care of all things like flowers, seating, being sure there was enough ice, and all the details that go into a lovely wedding.  And lovely it was.  My favorite weddings are small ones, and personal.  A friend (in the case, her godfather) to officiate, friends for the music, friends for the caterers.  It takes a village to make a marriage.

And of course she looked adorable--because I did manage to get the dress finished in time.

Congratulations, Ken and Natasha--may there be many good times ahead!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Howl, Part 3

Now just some random haunted trail photos.

Inside the "Hive" (Jeff's name for it--I still think of it as the fishnet).  Made by hanging much milage of erosion cloth.  It also got draped on the actors--who blended right in.  And the walls bit.

Homage was paid to the build crew by creating and displaying their death masks.

And strange things could be seen through the windows of the cabin.

Until next year . . .

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Howl Part 2

OK--it has nothing to do with the haunted trail, but isn't this the cutest little baby snake you ever saw?  Bob was working in the garden and spotted this little guy--at first he thought it was an earthworm and then realized is was looking back at him.

Back to the trail.

In order to create a successful haunted trail, you have to have one foot planted firmly in Crazytown.  You have to be the sort of person who picks up baby dolls wherever you find them.

You have to be the type of person who can take PVC pipe, electric cable, a foam skull, and paper mache and create this

That's the fun part.  Crazytown is a fun place.  Many people live there.  But to have a successful haunted trail you have to have the other foot planted in the world of checklists, budgets, and planning.  Recuiting volunteers (and they rocked!) You have to make non-much fun items such as this.

As each actor checks in, he/she is handed a card saying which scene they'll be in, what sort of costume they need, what sort of makeup, and who can tell them what they'll be doing. 

The security team is briefed (members of a motorcycle club--bless these guys)

All the scenes in the trail are built according to ADA standards and are wheelchair accessible.

Meh.  But after the checklists are done, you can get back to Crazytown and down to the serious business of scaring people.

High fives are given when you startle someone enough that they fall down.  Victory dances for when you hear someone say "I just peed on myself"  (and more so when your nose tells you that other functions have expressed themselves).   But in all of the years we've been doing this, we have never literally scared the pants off someone.  But Rob saw a woman step into the woods--and he assumed that she was trying to hide.  His charge and yell of "arrrrrghh" suddenly turned into an "oh--excuse me" as he realized that she was taking care of business before facing the last scene.  Rob--you rule!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Howl Part 1

I had every good intention of posting regularly during October to tell of the building and running of the haunted trail for the museum's Halloween Howl.  Well, I seem to have gotten busy doing it, and not writing about it.

In short--it was an amazing success.  It all ran smoothly enough that it made us nervous, and on Saturday the museum was letting in over 600 people an hour (there are events all over the museum, so not *everybody* went on the trail, but it sure felt like it).  It's too big and too complicated (and I'm still too tired) to write in any coherent manner, so you'll be getting it in a random fashion.

Quick background information--for the past 19 years the Tallahassee Museum has held the Halloween Howl.  A big part of that is the Haunted Trail--about a quarter mile walk through the woods.  For many years the trail was done by the crew who called themselves "The Sick Puppies"--Rob, Jeff, Bob, and myself.  Finally, we burned out.  In 2011 Bob and I ran off to Oaxaca, Mexico for the Day of the Dead (Rob and Jeff decorated the museum grounds), and in 2012 we did the Cabinet of Curiosities.  For complicated reasons, we came out of "retirement" this year and did the trail.

We do try to take advantage of our space--all you need to do to scare most people is simply put them in the woods at night and keep it dark.  We just push it a bit more.  Some people aren't prepared to take that.  We found it strange that a large number of people (at least 30 according to our Line Wench), after standing in line for an hour and a half, would start down the trail, see the first scene--then turn around and walk back out. (And these are taken during the day--imagine it at night, when you're pretty sure someone is going to jump out at you)

(Jeff is a genius--the tombstones and the mausoleum are made of Styrofoam.)

And there's the teaser.  A nice soft bed is calling my name--more later.