Slowly fixing up!

I’m starting with the oldest posts, and working forward. I’m moving my images to PhotoBucket and replacing the links, and trying to remember to add categories and tags. I am so bad at remembering those.

I’m not sure whether an updated (repaired) post notifies subscribers that a new post is up. If it does, you have my apologies… I still have to get this done, though.

One thing that probably will notify subscribers of “new” posts is when I come across a post that didn’t make it over from my old blog, for some reason. I will publish it over here, and I imagine it will seem to be a new post. I will try to put the original date on it. Again, I apologize.

I have done June – August 2010, so far. The vast majority of my posts lost their images, so this is going to take a while!

Operation Christmas Train

As you saw in my previous post, my husband had quit his job, and we have all been rallying to work on various things to bring in money to bridge the gap while he looks for a new one.

The best-laid plans and all that… most of our attempts have not worked out, not for lack of trying, but we’re working on it.  We’ve also been dealing with repeated health issues.

First, my mom ended up landing in the hospital three times in quick succession.  Once, because she seemed to be having an asthma attack that wouldn’t respond to her meds.  Turned out it was her congestive heart failure, which had decided to worsen.  Her cardiologist had been waiting since February for her to be eligible for Medicare, so he could run some tests we couldn’t afford and see if she needed a pacemaker or something.  She had just gone on Medicare, so he launched right in.  After doing a cath, he implanted a defibrillator.  I could tell he was really glad to have that done.

After that, it was bleeding issues due to her blood thinners (she’s been a heart patient ever since having open heart surgery over 40 years ago), and finally, another bout with fluid retention.  All this to top off multiple sprains to her right leg several weeks before.  She’s recovering nicely, though.  With everything my mom has been through in her life, I have no right to complain about anything!

Then, I caught a cold.  As I recovered, we had a funeral to attend for an uncle — an all-day affair, across the river, miles and miles away.  It was very moving to witness a burial with full military honors — the salute with the rifles, the playing of “Taps” by a white-crowned soldier — I had never seen this before, and I was so glad we were there.

A couple more days full of activity, and I started relapsing with the cold — and Shay caught it.  Oh, joy!

The two of us ended up missing Thanksgiving at my cousin’s house.  Her sister and her family had already had to bow out, because her mother-in-law had taken a turn for the worse.  If our family didn’t come, my cousin would have no company over at all for Thanksgiving.  My aunt came over and picked up my mom and the kids, to keep that from happening.

They had a wonderful Thanksgiving; meanwhile, Shay and I ate leftover pea soup and a loaf of pumpkin bread, while being total slugs in the living room watching football all day long.  And the next day, while we waited for them to come back (last-minute sleepover arrangements).  Worked out very well for them, as they got to help feed my cousin’s husband’s Star Wars fanaticism with a game of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit.

(Incidentally, my cousin’s husband found out he’s not as much of a fanatic as he thought.  Galadriel won Trivial Pursuit, and Bunny-Wan Kenobi tied for second!  He’s probably so horrified, he’ll have watched the whole original trilogy several dozen times before they come back.  He’ll be wanting a rematch, I’m sure!)

At any rate, that’s only a selection of the craziness that has been going on around here the last month!  Perhaps I will have a little more opportunity now to repair my poor blog!

The first step is this post and a new button in the right sidebar (which you might notice has become more populated with links over the last couple of months):

Operation Christmas TrainOperation Christmas Train is a new organization that

… partners with local organizations and churches and charitable organizations and identifying families in need that cant buy a Christmas present for their children.. and provide them with a complete train set.. of 5 cars one engine a caboose 14 pieces of track… a building a couple of hot wheels.. figurines and a transformer… to give to those kids in need at Christmas time…

This guy is pretty amazing!  This idea is all of four weeks old, give or take, and he’s already working with Angel Tree, the Salvation Army, and Starbuck’s, at the very least.  Basically, people send him train stuff, and he and his model railroading club does repairs and puts together complete sets from it all.  The sets get boxed up and given to families of needy kids.  They’ve even been able to start including stuff like hats and mittens!  Over 20 sets are already complete.

If you have some HO (as far as I know, that’s the only scale he’s accepting at the moment — it’s also the most common, by far) trains, track, buildings, people, animals, transformers, or parts that have been calling to you, wanting to be used and played with, why not give them new life in a Christmas train set for a child?  He also accepts Hot Wheels, items for newborns, toys for ages 3 – 11, and hats and mittens for ages infant – 12.

The button connects to a Facebook page, which is all he has at the moment, but here is the contact information posted there, which, since the group is public, I imagine is fine to post here (in case you don’t do Facebook):

Contact our director Dustin Fisher on facebook for more details or operationchristmastrainset[replace this with an “at” symbol]yahoo.com…
Operation Christmas Train set items can be sent to
540 Skylark Drive
Oklahoma City Oklahoma 73127
or contact us to sign your organization up to receive free train sets.

I did remove the phone number, and I added the bracketed bit to the email address.  I don’t want to be responsible for him getting spam, and my blog is crawled by spambots constantly.

Well, I’m up way too late, but I really wanted to get this out there quickly!

Life and Technical Difficulties

I apologize that it has been so long since I last posted.  I actually have been working on the blog some, I just haven’t posted.

I have been working on some of the other aspects of my blog, such as trying to get my blogroll to work the way I want it to (still not there… no spacing between the entries… grrrr).

Also, you may have noticed that some of my images have disappeared — immediately obvious would be my background image and my header image.  Any images I had stored locally, rather than at PhotoBucket, are gone.  So I’m trying to figure that out, if it can be figured out.  If not, I’ll have to upload them all to PhotoBucket, and re-link each one.

Oh, look at that!  My “About” page is gone!  *sigh*  Okay.  I guess I’m paying for not backing up my blog before updating or something.

Aside from technical difficulties, there’s some other stuff going on.  Everybody’s got a life, right?  Okay, that’s debatable.  I do happen to have a life, though, and like most people’s lives, mine gets messy and crazy sometimes.  This summer has been a bit of a blur of doctor’s appointments, funerals, and even a heart attack scare.

My husband enjoys what he does.  Like most jobs, there are some aspects of it that he doesn’t care for, but all in all, he enjoys it.  Unfortunately, his job came with a lot of stress… stress that was multiplied when he found himself the last man standing in his department, and stress that has been compounded almost weekly ever since, as more and more responsibilities are added to his position.  Some people thrive on high-stress jobs, but my husband is not one of them.

Then he started having chest pain.  Pain on the left side, and into his left arm.  Pain between his shoulder blades.  Classic heart attack symptoms.

We have no insurance, but this is something you don’t ignore (unless you’re that friend of mine who allowed his toe to get infected to the point at which it was almost a threat to his life, because going to the doctor is expensive — YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).  So we went to the doctor and had some labs done as a precaution, but it turned out to be a pulled muscle, thank you, Lord!

His job had become too much for him, though, so he is now working part-time training his replacement.  This will allow him to have some income while he gets some much-needed rest, and starts looking for a new job.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are pulling together to try to bring in some extra money, to help bridge the gap during this time.  I’m listing some things to an Etsy store, Galadriel is making jewelry, and we’ve got a couple of other things going on.

I would greatly appreciate your prayers for my husband, as he looks for a new job to support his family.  And be assured that I have not abandoned my blog!

My Global Warming Winter

We normally have relatively mild winters when compared with some areas of the country.  Now, where my aunt lives, the temperatures are brutally cold in the winter, but the humidity is almost nonexistent — making lower temperatures much more bearable than many of our humid winter days that are actually quite a bit warmer (she said this herself).  Here, though, you can occasionally have a Christmas worthy of Australia… where they’re surfing and basking in the hot rays of the summer.  We don’t usually have winters that warm (and those warm snaps are short-lived).

A few years back, we hit the 80s Fahrenheit in mid-February, and never looked back.  That, needless to say, was a long, long summer.

A couple of winters before that, before we moved here, it actually snowed several times.  And with appreciable accumulation, too — 4 – 6 inches!  Now snow… that is rare here.  Not rare as in going to eBay and finding 10 people all selling the same “RARE!!!” item — sorry, that ain’t rare — but rare as in it only happens once in 10 years, if you’re lucky.  That kind of rare.  And when it comes, it doesn’t stick around long.  It’s all melted in a rather depressingly short amount of time.

So with that background, and the knowledge that I have two kids who literally could not remember the last time they saw snow (at a funeral in the Northeast), you can understand perhaps why my beloved Shay and I made a very solemn promise to our kids.  We promised that if it ever snowed, no matter what time it was, even in the dead of night, we would make sure they got out to play in it.

Galadriel corrects me:  she has a few memories of the snow up north.  A snowball she threw at Daddy which hardly went anywhere, sledding, a patch of yellow snow (ick), and watching snow fall through the hotel window.

I was up late one night this winter, and the forecast was calling for sleet.  Or freezing rain.  Or maybe snow.  They really weren’t sure, as it was all going to depend on exactly how the front came through.  I saw on the radar that whatever the precipitation was going to be, it was now over us, so I opened the front door.

It was snowing.

I see snow!

Dutifully, I woke the kids, and told them to dress quickly, as there was no telling how long the snow would last.  In the few minutes it took them to get outside, the snow had begun coming down a good deal heavier (the camera caught only a small fraction of the flakes coming down).  It didn’t take long for them to get down to business.  At 2:00 in the morning.

Collecting snow from the truck.

With no accumulation on the ground yet, they began carefully collecting snow from Shay’s work truck.  They made sure to let as little snow as possible fall to the ground from the truck.  They even gently swept it from the top edges of the truck bed.

A small pile of snow, at first a mini-snowman attempt, now ready to be launched as a projectile:

Soon-to-be snowball.

After depleting the truck of its snow supply, they headed over to the minivan.  They continued going back and forth, as the snow would collect on one vehicle as they played with the snow from the other.  This picture is from the beginning of their second snow raid on the minivan, as you can see where they had collected snow from the windshield before:

Collecting snow from the minivan.

Needless to say, this was no fast and furious snowball fight. It was slow, calculated, and deliberate. Snowball remnants were recollected to help continue the war. Snow was collected from anywhere and everywhere it accumulated.

Collecting snow from the front stoop.

Finally, they had to admit they were chilled absolutely to the bone (it was our typically humid cold), and they went inside, to find that their grandmother had made cocoa for us all.  After warming up for a while, the kids decided it was time for Round 2, as the snow was still coming down quite nicely!  I couldn’t blame them, and back outside we went.

I think we lasted until about 3:30am or so.  On a weeknight.  I love homeschooling…

Another week or two later, they were forecasting the same thing — sleet …or freezing rain … or maybe snow.  Only this time, it would be in the daytime!

It ended up being sleet, with freezing rain later.

Collecting sleet from the truck.

Okay, so it might not be snow, but we have to do something with it, right?  It’s frozen, after all.

The sleet started off very, very dry, and refused to stick together.  I provided a spray bottle of water, hoping that would help them build a snowman.

Spraying the sleet to try to get it to stick together.

Unfortunately, it really didn’t help the sleet stick together that well, so they had to revise their plans.

Building a sleet pile.

Shay joined them, once freezing rain began accumulating, and showed them how to scrape the windshields for more ice.

Scraping the windshield.

Finally, their creation took shape.

Sleet frog.

I had dripped some food coloring around the perimeter of their sleet pile earlier, and now it showed up as splotches and streaks on their sleet frog.  So… I added green food coloring to the water bottle, and they sprayed him down.

Coloring the sleet frog.

The frog was soon to be armored with a layer of freezing rain, which, along with the fact that the temperatures didn’t rise much above freezing for several days, helped it to last for five days.  Having slowly lessened in size, it finally finished melting.

Meanwhile, there was more sleet to play with that day, once the sleet frog was finished! Galadriel got enough sleet to stick together to make a tiny snowman. Sleetman. Whatever.

Sleet man.

Of course, it wasn’t long before it got thrown at me.

Dodging the sleet man.

The stairs became more and more perilous, as sleet and freezing rain mixed with salt, at temperatures that didn’t allow the salt to do much.

Sleet, freezing rain, and salt on the stairs.

I heard about snow cream, and the kids had set out a bowl. Once it had collected a nice amount of sleet, we brought it in and made sleet cream!

Sleet cream.

It’s sleet, a splash of vanilla, sugar, and cream. YUM!

On yet another day, just a few weeks ago, we had an ice storm! I’ll grant that it wasn’t nearly as impressive as those I experienced in New York and Delaware, but it was pretty impressive for here.

Ice storm in the pines.

One pine rested its heavy bough on the clothesline.

Ice weighing pine bough down to the clothesline.

The pine needles appeared to be about to drip, but of course, they weren’t.

Frozen drips.

Even last year’s dog fennel was pretty with ice beads decorating it:

Ice beads on the dog fennel.

Then, of course, there was the frost heave, standing like fiberoptic wisps, or old-fashioned pulled candy:

Frost heave waves.

Frost heave filaments.

Frost heave in the light.

The kids found a crawfish with extremely poor timing (for those who don’t know, crawfish don’t do cold temperatures):

Frozen crawfish.

And here’s a random beautiful sunset:

Sunset.

The global warming continued, giving us an actual spring (!), when we normally go directly from winter to summer. Really, we only have three seasons here: Summer, Fall, and Rain. So we normally go from Rain to Summer. Instead, we went from Winter to Spring, a very unusual and pleasant experience for us. Today, when the historical average high would be 78*, it barely made it to 65*.

Loving every minute of it!

Well, except that some people have already planted around here, and we had an advisory last night because of the cold. Now I’m actually glad we’re running late… or maybe not, since some of the older folks shake their heads and say never to plant here until after Easter.

 

He’s… BEartsy!

One movie we love to re-watch every once in a while is “Bolt”.  It’s about a dog who stars in a hit sci-fi/action TV show, but believes that it is all real.  …At least, until he gets loose in a bid to save his owner/co-star, who he thinks is in danger.  He meets up with a cat and a hamster, and begins his journey to reality.

At one point, the three are hitching a ride inside a mobile home that is being moved on a highway.  The hamster, named Rhino, starts talking into the duct work about how awesome he is, finally declaring that he’s BEawesome (a mashup of “beyond awesome”)!

embedded by Embedded Video

My kids like listening to KLove, a Christian music station.  They have their favorite artists and songs, and their not-so-favorites.  They aren’t crazy about Jamie Grace, because of the way she words some things.  They like a lot of Hillsong, such as “Oceans” by Hillsong United.  They like old Newsboys hits like “Shine”, but some of their new stuff is less clear, and they don’t like it as much.  “Let Them See You” by JJ Weeks Band is one they like.  One Sonic Society’s “Never Once” is a favorite, and I really like that one, too.

They don’t like what we call “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs, or songs that are too nebulous.  “If a guy can sing it to a girl in the backseat of a car, it isn’t worship,” Shay told them.  Very true.

My beloved Shay and I have introduced Galadriel and Bunny-Wan Kenobi to some of our older favorites, as well.  Actually, a lot of that happened when they found a stash of old CDs and started playing them.  So I guess you can’t say that we introduced them, more that they helped themselves.

They discovered Steve Camp, Margaret Becker, Newsboys, Twila Paris, and Michael Card, among others, nearly wearing out our old disks.  A lot of it is good, but now and then they’d come across a song that seemed to use great music and a lot of words to say not very much.

Shay would nod his head, remembering the song they were talking about, and would remind them of something Margaret Becker said once upon a time.  I can’t remember the exact words, and can’t find them, but it was something to this effect:  “Musicians are artists, and artists are weird.”  Maybe those are the exact words.  Being a musician herself, she could say this with authority, and I’m sure many of us have read biographies of musicians that have borne out what she said.

As long as the majority of an artist’s songs are clear and good, we don’t mind the occasional departure into artsy-ness.

So when the kids started asking me about a song they were hearing, and wanting me to listen to it and look up the lyrics, I figured it was something like that.  The artist was saying something in an artsy way, and I’d be able to decipher it for them.

The song was called “Jesus in Disguise”, by Brandon Heath.  Hey, I think I already know what this song’s about, without even hearing it.  Wouldn’t it be about how we who are saved are all representatives of Christ wherever we go, being His hands and feet, going and doing His work, loving and helping others, taking His message of salvation to those who need to hear?  Jesus in Disguise.  That’s us, or, at least, it ought to be.  It was simple.

They dragged me into Galadriel’s room one day when the song came on.  I listened, but had to admit that I didn’t really get it.  “I’ll look the lyrics up,” I told them.  I was sure that would clear everything up.  I just missed something.  The key to the song.  The one piece that would cause the rest to fall into place.

I looked it up and read it.  As I sat there spinning my wheels, the kids came up and asked if I had figured it out.  I didn’t answer right away, so they started reading.  When they were finished, we had the interesting experience of all being completely incapable of understanding what we had read… together.

Reprinted from the KLove website:

Jesus in Disguise, by Brandon Heath

Ever get something in your head
It’s nothing you’ve heard, or something you’ve read
Ever had a cut, but you never saw a blade
Brought to your knees, but you never prayed

(Chorus)
Jesus in disguise
Jehovah passing by
The burden of a tear
Hanging in your eye
Jesus in disguise
A scar across the sky
You were looking for a king
You would never recognize
Jesus in disguise

Ever feel like you’ve been somewhere before
You hold the key, you know which door
Speak the word your lips have never known
Because your heart told you so

Chorus

So open my eyes, wide as I can
Blind as I am, blind as I am
So open my eyes as wide as I can
Blind as I am, blind as I am

Jesus in disguise
Jesus in disguise

Obviously, it meant something to Brandon Heath, or he wouldn’t have written it.

Later that evening, I was putting the kids to bed, and we started talking about it again.  Galadriel called Brandon Heath “artsy”, and I replied, “Artsy?  He’s beyond artsy!”

After seeing the little clip from “Bolt” above, you can guess what came from Bunny-Wan Kenobi next:  “He’s BEartsy!”

Which, of course, had us all laughing for several minutes.

In all fairness to Brandon Heath, we do like his song “Give Me Your Eyes”.

Room again to breathe

I have committed a blogging crime.  I have neglected my blog for four entire months!  Time to get the train back on the tracks.

Before I get any further into this post, I should say that my daughter has changed her online handle.  She was ILoveBunnies, but more names similar to hers started cropping up.  Since we recently read the Lord of the Rings series and watched the movies, she settled on Galadriel.  So that is what I will call her from now on.

After I posted last, Galadriel pointed out quite rightly that I kept saying what sewing we were going to do for the Renaissance Fair, yet we had not started.  The start of the fair was only weeks away.  We had about eight weeks until the last day of the fair, as it runs on weekends for about 6 weeks in a row.

The task ahead was pretty huge.  What we wanted to accomplish was:

  • A new blouse to go under Galadriel’s bodice, rather than the peasant-looking chemise with the drawstring neckline.
  • New shirt and pants for Bunny-Wan Kenobi, who had outgrown his from the last couple of years.
  • A hat to go with Galadriel’s dress.
  • Trim on Galadriel’s dress.
  • An entire costume for my mom.
  • Sock-like wraps of a rough material for my beloved Shay, which would go into his shoes and be held around his legs with laces.
  • If time allowed, a costume for me.

I had already waited way too late.  Galadriel was right.  We had to get started.  So we stole Shay’s table from the shed and covered it with a cheap, flock-backed vinyl tablecloth to protect fabric from the rough surface of the table.  I unpacked the sewing machine and located the sewing boxes.  We found the cutting board and laid it out on top of the freezer.

We had found some black denim draperies and some soft cream sheets at a thrift store, so I pulled those out first and quickly put together a shirt and pants for Bunny-Wan Kenobi.  I extended the length of the stride and of the legs of the pants pattern.  Really, I should have used a larger pattern, but I didn’t.  He’ll probably need another set next year anyway, he’s growing so fast!

On to Galadriel’s blouse.  We looked through the costume patterns we had bought at a yard sale a while back.  One in particular caught our eye.  It was an Elizabethan style blouse in black-gold organza.  “I love that material,” Galadriel remarked admiringly, “I wish we could find something like that to make the blouse.”

The picture shows the blouse closed at the collar, and pulled open from there.  There was no way Galadriel was wearing it like that, but we agreed the blouse was gorgeous.

The picture shows the blouse closed at the collar, and pulled open from there. There was no way Galadriel was wearing it like that, but we agreed the blouse was gorgeous.

I agreed, thinking how perfectly it would go under her bodice.  And then — something stirred in the deep, cobwebbed recesses of my memory.  We had bought a lot of material at yard sales and thrift stores, mostly as curtains and draperies.  Hadn’t I bought –?

Without saying anything, I disappeared into my room to excavate the unpacked material boxes.  Finally, I found it.  Two curtain panels of black-gold organza.  It was breathtaking.  Woven of black in one direction, with the crossing threads of metallic gold, the fabric was a sheer, shimmery, antique gold.

I brought it out and showed Galadriel.  “Something like… this?”  Her eyes sprang open and lit up with delight.

So I laid it all out, test-fitting the pattern, making sure I had enough of the fabric to make the blouse and such.  Then I ironed it, and laid it out again and began cutting.

I had no idea what I was in for.

I had no idea what I was in for.

What I did not know about organza is that it not only loves to shift around as you are trying to sew it, but it also is some of the most fray-happy fabric I have ever met.  I realized quickly that I was going to be learning some new seams.  Fully enclosed, finished seams that would not fray.

I had to absolutely pin the stuff to death!  Which was so much fun, as I was gathering it and trying to keep it from fraying itself out of existence.

I had to absolutely pin the stuff to death! Which was so much fun, as I was gathering it and trying to keep it from fraying itself out of existence.

The blouse took me fully two weeks.  I had most definitely started sewing too late.

The finished result, worn as intended, under her bodice.  It was so worth the two weeks and all the pulling of hair!

The finished result, worn as intended, under her bodice. It was so worth the two weeks and all the pulling of hair!

The lace around the collar and cuffs cost more than the fabric did.  I spent $8 on the fabric, which would have cost me about $50 retail, and the antique gold rayon lace was $12 on Etsy ($3/yd). I splurged.

Unfortunately, all the metallic thread ends stuck through the French seams and mock French seams and scratched poor Galadriel to distraction.  So I bought brown satin ribbon, and she lined every seam with it, while I continued sewing.  She also worked on the trim you see on her bodice, sleeves, and skirt.  Yards, and yards, and yards of trim.  Which we had thankfully gotten for half price!

She also made her own hat and Mom’s hat, while I worked on Mom’s dress.  I neglected to take a lot of pictures during this time, because things were so crazy, but I do have pictures of Mom’s hat.

This was made from a pattern Galadriel and I drew up.  Mom did not want the veil free-floating, so we attached it to the back of the hat.  Galadriel sewed two glass beads to the edge of the veil, to give weight and help it hang properly.

This was made from a pattern Galadriel and I drew up. Mom did not want the veil free-floating, so we attached it to the back of the hat. Galadriel sewed two glass beads to the edge of the veil, to give weight and help it hang properly.

Galadriel wanted to edge the hat with fur, so I bought a cinnamon-colored pelt for her to use.  She did a wonderful job stitching it on!

The hat is two layers.  The base color of the dress is olive greens.  I had some lime green sheet fabric, and some beige windowpane fabric.  We put the beige over the lime, and ended up with light olive!  It isn't that visible in the pictures, but it works.

The hat is two layers. The base color of the dress is olive greens. I had some lime green sheet fabric, and some beige windowpane fabric. We put the beige over the lime, and ended up with light olive! It isn’t that visible in the pictures, but it works.

Galadriel took some extra fur and sewed some temporary earmuffs inside the hat.

Galadriel took some extra fur and sewed some temporary earmuffs inside the hat.

It was humorous… as I sewed the dress, and Galadriel worked on the hats, we kept having to unthread and rethread the sewing machine.  We would each keep trying to beat the other to the sewing machine, so our thread would still be in it, and we wouldn’t have to rethread the machine.

Galadriel used the seam ripper to separate some lace from a tablecloth.  I used the tablecloth to make Mom's sleeves, and the lace went around the cuffs.

Galadriel used the seam ripper to separate some lace from a tablecloth. I used the tablecloth to make Mom’s sleeves, and the lace went around the cuffs.

Bunny-Wan Kenobi helped out, as well.  He had the task of whip-stitching the lining of Mom's bodice to the back bottom edge of the bodice.

Bunny-Wan Kenobi helped out, as well. He had the task of whip-stitching the lining of Mom’s bodice to the back bottom edge of the bodice.

In the end, even Mom ended up hemming her own skirt by feel (as she has no real central vision), while Galadriel and I finished other things.  We were up so late the night before the fair!

And what a day we picked, too… cold… humid… windy.  It was December by this time, after all, but we sure were hoping for a milder day!  We brought coats, but of course we didn’t want to wear them!  Who wants to work that hard, only to cover it all up?  So we all wore multiple layers, even fleece under our costumes.  This made us each look, well, puffy.  But at least we made do without coats! We all wished we had Mom’s hat, though… with those built-in rabbit earmuffs!

Shay, being more adaptable to cold then the rest of us, simply wore his great kilt and laced his new, thick stockings over a pair of wool socks.  The great kilt has a lot of fabric, which is usually gathered and worn across one shoulder.  This can be taken down from the shoulder, ungathered, and used as a coat.  So his coat comes built into his costume… he can just choose to use it or not.

Trying to keep warm... Bunny-Wan Kenobi and Galadriel in the evening at the Renaissance Fair.

Trying to keep warm… Bunny-Wan Kenobi and Galadriel in the evening at the Renaissance Fair.

Sorry for the graininess… it was dark by the time we got someone to take a picture!

The one thing that did not happen was a costume for me, so I wore some 1830s-era clothing, instead.  With fleece underneath it, I was cold anyway.

The one thing that did not happen was a costume for me, so I wore some 1830s-era clothing, instead. With fleece underneath it, I was cold anyway.

It was funny… I didn’t want to stick out among the rest of the family as the only member without a costume, but I figured I might get some odd looks, being dressed 200 years out-of-phase.  Nope!  No sooner had we walked into the fair, when a lady in costume pulled me by the arm.

“Let me see… turn around!  That is great!  You know… most people don’t know that those drop sleeves are historically correct for the Victorian era!”

I hadn’t even said what era I was dressed in, so she obviously knew her fashion history.  I held my head high for the rest of the day!

Shay, in his great kilt, with the comfort of 100% wool surrounding him all day!

Shay, in his great kilt, with the comfort of 100% wool surrounding him all day!

I know you can’t see them very well, but his stockings are made from some nice, rough, (CLEARANCED) upholstery fabric.  They tuck nicely into his ghillies — which, since the real ones are out of our budget, are nothing more than some of his old black tennis shoes with the tongues cut out.  Two inexpensive packs of 72″ leather laces, a pair per shoe, and he was able to lace them up to his knees, exactly the way they would have been.

I pinned some sheet fabric around his leg and marked it to make the pattern.  They are sewn up the back of the leg.

I chose a different picture to upload for Mom’s dress.  I took it inside, as we were fitting it, with my cellphone.  My cell does not take good pictures, so it’s still grainy.  But at least the colors are better than the one from the fair.

We still needed to finish the lacing holes in the back of the bodice and skirt, and the hem on the bottom of the skirt.

We still needed to finish the lacing holes in the back of the bodice and skirt, and the hem on the bottom of the skirt.  Also, the little v-necked lace top still needed to be stitched inside the neckline.

The main part of the skirt, as well as the bodice sides, are made from some heavy dark gold twill draperies.  The skirt front panel is from an olive green damask tablecloth.  The bodice has crushed olive fabric sleeves, with the lace from a few pictures up.  The front center panel, back center panels, and the tabs around the waist are all made from a shiny olive table runner with gold vines embroidered on it (you can see it above, in Bunny-Wan Kenobi’s sewing picture).  This fabric was dubbed the “Rivendell fabric”, as it resembled some of the elvish fabrics from “The Lord of the Rings”.  The copper across the front is from a little satin thing made to go under a vase.  All from thrift stores.

Perhaps our biggest compliment of the day came from the entertainment director.  We ran into him (not knowing who he was, but he was in costume) as we were nearing the close of the day.  He loved our costumes, and asked if we might be interested in joining the cast.  We asked lots of questions, and we are considering it.

When we pull everything out this fall, I’ll definitely have to take better pictures!  But I shouldn’t be nearly as rushed, since my sewing machine is out and at the ready.  I just used it the other day, in fact.  I’ve got some sewing projects to work on for the fall, and I can get them done long before they are needed, since I have everything out now.

In spite of the cold, we had a wonderful time at the fair!  But once that was over, the rush of time was still upon us.  Christmas was coming, and we had more sewing projects to do to prepare for that!

A couple of years ago, when Galadriel and I were first learning to sew, she made a set of red flannel pajamas for her little brother for Christmas.  They were so big on him!  He adored them, too, but the legs which he used to roll up were now barely to his ankles, and the sleeves which came over his hands now came just a little below his elbows.

Galadriel wanted to extend them for him… and then she struck upon a wild, crazy, insane idea:  she would turn them into pajamas that looked like the suit the comic superhero “The Flash” wears.  This required making a number of patterns ourselves.  We ended up doing the modifications in fleece, because we could not find flannel in a strong enough yellow.

The result?

He loves these pajamas now more than ever.  And his sister put plenty of extra fabric to let out the sleeves and legs.

He loves these pajamas now more than ever. And his sister put plenty of extra fabric to let out the sleeves and legs.

Also, we had a whole set of new flannel pajamas to make for him, for Mom to give him for Christmas.  We were up until 6:00 Christmas morning finishing them!

My biggest shock on Christmas was when I opened this little jewelry box from Shay.  It contained a note, with a picture of diamonds on it.  The note said that it was time for a real one (meaning a diamond).

I wear Shay’s grandmother’s engagement ring.  When the family found the ring, the center diamond was missing.  Shay didn’t have the money to put a diamond in it at the time, so he put in a gem-quality CZ.  All these 22 years, he has wanted to replace it with a real diamond, in spite of the fact that I kept telling him I was perfectly content with my CZ.

But he had gotten a Christmas bonus that would allow him to get me a diamond, and I was getting one.  So we found a local jeweler, and he brought out some diamonds and educated us some.  He looked at my CZ, which hadn’t sparkled in a long time because I couldn’t seem to get it clean any more.  Turned out it wasn’t dirty, it was scratched like crazy!  I didn’t realize that CZs were soft. But I definitely wanted my sparkly ring back, so I was really excited about the diamond!

My ring sparkles again!  And this won't scratch up, either!

My ring sparkles again! And this won’t scratch up, either!

Normally, all this time, I’ve been working on the family calendar.  This time, I was too busy even to begin working on it until after Christmas.  This year, Galadriel wanted to do the calendar.  So I taught her how to use the program.  She did an amazing job, and it’s really neat seeing everything from her perspective.  Every month has a collection of pictures with captions, and it takes a lot of photo editing and a lot of thought.  Tomorrow, we pick them up from the printer who has bound them for us.  Yeah, it’s February.  *sigh*  But it really is like a newsletter, and lets far-away family watch the kids grow up, and lets them see what we’ve been up to for the last year.

Also, we had two family reunions, one of which I needed to make a family tree for.  Again, lots of time spent in GIMP, with twelve generations going back to the year 1600, and lots of lines.  It’s popular, though… family members ordered 15, and now we’re about to get 6 more printed.  Sam’s Club prints 20″ x 30″ posters for under $10 each.  So it’s actually affordable.

Finally, RabbitTalk, where I am a Moderator, has undergone a major upgrade and a change of hosting in the last few weeks, and I helped with a good bit of the testing.

SO… now you know my crazy saga!  But I finally feel like I can breathe now, and so I’ll be back to posting.

An unintentional hiatus

My, how the time flies!

It has been pretty nutty around here lately.  We have had lots of doctor’s appointments going on, my husband started teaching a Bible class once or twice a month (which has had me a bit involved as well), more printer issues (turns out my real problem was a defective printhead), losses in the rabbitry, feed issues — so many things happening.

…And I’ve been reading Tolkien to my kids.  :)

I have a post in progress, though, and I will get that up in the next day or two.  Thank you for being patient with me!

Looking for a quick buck?

…Or do you just like harassing people?

It is no secret that most small towns around here are “speed traps”.  I’m sure you’re all familiar with them — the places with sudden, drastic reductions in speed with little or no warning.

My husband drives, if I remember correctly, at least 30,000 miles per year for work.  He got caught in one trap about an hour away.  This one came in the form of a school zone that starts 30 minutes earlier than all the other school zones in the area.  It wasn’t one of the ones we have that say “Speed Limit 25 When Flashing”.  It was one of those with the times spelled out, and you have to see what time it is and figure out whether it’s between those hours very quickly.

He drives a company vehicle, so any infractions count not only against him, but against his employer.

At any rate, he went to the mayor’s court, owned up to his guilt, but pled his case for his employer’s sake and the insurance they pay for.  The mayor and the chief of police graciously reduced the fine to a level that would not go on the record.  We all attended, as something of a homeschool field trip, so the kids could see how one conducts oneself in court (even one as informal as this one was).  They got to see how a number of cases played out before their Daddy was called up.

Today, something quite different happened.

There is a long, straight stretch of interstate between two cities that my beloved Shay travels quite often.  The speed limit is 60 miles per hour.  Coming home today, he got on that stretch of road, and called me so I could look into a traffic situation at the next city that he had heard about.  I told him I’d call him back when I was able to find out details.  We don’t have long or frequent conversations when he’s driving; he just calls occasionally about traffic.

(I don’t know about other states, but it is not illegal here to talk on a cell phone while driving.  However, we rarely do it.)

When I called him back, I didn’t get an answer.  I didn’t think anything of it… it happens now and then.  I figured I’d wait a bit and try again.

What I didn’t know was that he had been pulled over.

The policeman came up to the window and informed him that he had been doing 78 miles per hour.

Shay respectfully and apologetically replied that he didn’t do that.  The policeman asked if my husband was calling him a liar.

“No, sir, but this is my job.  I get on this highway, and I set my cruise control on 61 miles per hour.  I can’t afford to drive like that.  I’d lose my job.”

The policeman messed around with him for a few more minutes, and then got in his car.  Eventually, he let Shay go.

Shay started back home, shaking for miles from the stress.   The policeman had endangered his job, accusing him of something he had not done.  And the man knew Shay hadn’t done it, because I’m sure he would not have let a man off the hook whom he knew had been doing almost 20mph over the limit.

When I did reach him on the phone, I could tell something was wrong.  It was confirmed when he got home, but it was a while before he relaxed enough to tell me what had happened.

My beloved husband is under enough stress.  He didn’t need this.

Upsy-Downosis

My son loved to watch episodes of “Jay Jay the Jet Plane” when he was little.  I figure it was probably a knock-off of “Thomas the Tank Engine”, but I don’t know.  At any rate, it was about a bunch of young planes and a helicopter, and how they learn things as they are growing up.

One episode was called “Herky Catches Upsy-Downosis”.  Herky was the young helicopter friend of Jay Jay.  Upsy-Downosis was like a cold, and Herky got it.  It caused him to fly upside-down, and was very disorienting, as you can imagine.  Like people who drag themselves to work when they are sick, and force themselves to try to perform, Herky expended great effort to fly upright so no one would know he was sick.  Eventually, it got bad enough that he couldn’t hide it, and he had to take a few days to rest and recover.

What does this have to do with anything?

Well, our buck, Pinto, has Upsy-Downosis.

Actually, it’s called Wry Neck, or Torticollis, but the effect is pretty much the same.  Poor Pinto expends lots of effort to remain upright, but his head is never upright unless we hold him that way.  To him, upright is this:

Hi!  I'm Pinto, and I'm rightside-up!

Hi! I’m Pinto, and I’m right-side-up!

This can be caused by several things, but probably most common is a protozoan (or a fungus, they can’t decide) called Encephalitozoon Cuniculi.

While I’m not absolutely positive that is the correct diagnosis, I really need to treat it like it is.

So for the last eight days, since this started on July 4th, we’ve been spending a lot of time getting medicine, food, and water into Pinto.

Fact:  A rabbit with Wry Neck will drain all the time in your life away.  And I am soooooooo tired!  He’s doing better, though.

Time to go give Pinto some water and then go to bed!

Independence Day thoughts

I apologize for getting this out so late, but when I took a break from typing to go feed the rabbits, I found our buck has wry neck. Most of the remainder of the night was spent dealing with that.

Anyway, back to Independence Day, albeit belated…

It is widely thought that the Founding Fathers of our country were small-minded men who could not foresee the issues of today. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The things they said, if they were separated from the names of the men who said them, could easily pass for quotes from today.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. — Patrick Henry

Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws. — John Adams

It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men. — Samuel Adams

I have accepted a seat in the House of Representatives, and thereby have consented to my own ruin, to your ruin, and to the ruin of our children. I give you this warning that you may prepare your mind for your fate. — John Adams

Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? — Patrick Henry

God bless you and yours on this Independence Day!