Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

And did I do the catching up I intended?  Obviously not.  Life keeps going forward, and it's hard to remember what I did yesterday, much less details of months ago.  So I just have to hit the highlights, and move on.  New Year's resolution--keep the blog updated.  If only for myself, to help remember my life.

So--gee--what happened in September?  Anything interesting?  Something . . . oh yeah.  We got hit by Hurricane Hermine.

We feel a little guilty that we came out of it smelling like a rose (not quite--it's still pretty darned hot in Sept. in Florida and without power we couldn't run AC or even fans).  Of we lost power, along with 80% of so of the rest of Tallahassee.  And we're on a well, so without power we don't have water.  But we had many many gallons of water set aside (because I like to be able to flush the toilet) and a gas burner to cook on so we were set.  We were planning on at least a week without power--but it was on in two days.  There were a lot of limbs and trash down in the yard but no damage.

But what still gets to me was sitting on the porch listening to the radio about what was going on in Tallahassee.  The storm came through during the night.  The next morning, with trees down and power lines down and power crews trying to work and no traffic lights--the streets were filled with people driving around trying so find someplace to get coffee and breakfast.  Lines were around the block at one McDonald's that had power.  We were dumbfounded.  Hurricanes are big lumbering monsters--with emphasis on the lumbering.  You get at least a week's warning that they're coming, and that you're likely to lose power.  And yet after the storm centers had to be set up to pass out bottled water because people didn't set any aside.  How about getting a can of Sterno, a jar of instant coffee, and some granola bars?  I don't understand anyone willing to be helpless.

Of course, with late summer storms come tons of orphan baby squirrels--I raised 9 of them.  Usually I don't name my fosters, but I will always remember little Milagra (miracle).  Getting blown out of a tree in a big storm can be rough on babies, and of one litter of four two died the first night, and one little girl was very weak (the fourth was fine).  I got her on Friday--by Saturday she was paralyzed and barely breathing.  Sunday I assumed she was dead until I picked her up and found that she was still breathing.  If I was careful she could swallow a tiny amount of formula.  I did injections of saline solution to keep her from being dehydrated.  Monday--still breathing.  More injections, and I massaged and moved her legs to keep them from stiffening.  This continued for Tuesday and Wednesday--and then Wednesday night I swore that I saw a leg twitch.  Thursday she started waking up and trying to move, and by Friday she was fine.  It was, indeed a miracle.  Eventually she went back in with the others and I couldn't tell which one she was.

(yes, I actually raised 9 of them but you try getting a group of squirrels to hold still for a picture.)

Other things in September and October--I taught a couple of workshops (indigo dyeing and felting) and did the usual programs and working at the Museum.  And, of course, prepared for the Halloween Howl.  It was definitely tricky this time--our trail is "the walk through the spooky woods" and by some miscommunication--the woods had been cut down.  We debated not doing the trail at all, but ended up doing a somewhat abbreviated version through a small area that still had some trees.  Bob and I opted to entertain the line (we still ran 1000 people through on Saturday night alone, so the wait in line was pretty long).  Bob wanted to be a plague doctor this year.  As he is bigger than the average bear, there was no way to find a mask to fit him.  So, of course, I made it--and I was right proud of it.

One of my favorite materials to work with--kid's craft foam.  It took a few tries with paper models to get a mask that fit him, and then some work on the foam to get it to look like leather, but I was quite happy with the results (and yes--plague doctors who had to be on their feet for hours would wear Crocks).  What I loved was that kids would come up to him and ask if he was a plague doctor, or parents would explain to kids about putting herbs in the mask to try to protect the doctor from disease.  Even waiting in line at Halloween can be educational)
While I was working with craft foam, I also made some gauntlets.  A couple of the scenes needed wraith figures, and I wanted something more dramatic than just plain black gloves.  Eventually I regretted it.  The first one was a challenge, to get all the pieces made, textured, painted, and attached.  At 23 pieces of foam each, the other three gauntlets were a bit of a slog.

But they did add a lot to the costume.

As the saying goes, the cobbler's children have no shoes.  I had costumes for the 30 or so actors, the wraith robes (two of them) and gauntlets done, and Bob's plague doctor costume (I also made the robe and hat).  But what about myself?   It's amazing, when you're desperate and don't have much time, what you can do with PVC pipe and some sheets.

The head was a couple of big candy bowls glued together, and the eyes were smaller bowls.  Beak and talons were more fun foam.  The forearms were trash tongs so I could move my claws.  I was inside in a PVC harness, and a piece of PVC ran from a bicycle helmet I was wearing up to the head so I could turn his head.  It was a tremendous amount of fun walking around in this thing, and I had dozens of pictures taken.  I did need a keeper (Bob hung around nearby, asperging people with a spray of herbs from a decorated skull he was carrying, but he kept an eye on me) because-- to put in mildly--both vision and mobility were rather limited.  Totally worth it.

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