Thursday, September 23, 2004

Train of Terror

Train of Terror -- theme for our Halloween Display.  If I commence whining and complainin don't go getting me wrong, I love Halloween, the one holiday in the year with no emotional expectations or repercussions.  Well, that and it is an occasion when heavy, overly dramatic make-up doesn't make folk look at a gal all funny like. 

Anyway.  I am supposed to come up with "scary stuff" to put around the train tracks.  Either I am suffering creative block or hormonal imbalance because the one idea that has galvanized in my mind as truly terrifying involves large wooden cutouts of women in aprons with talk bubbles that contain phrases that our mother's said and we all swore we never would but long about 40 start saying anyway.  Theme?  You WILL eventually turn into your mother and there is nothing that you can do about it.


Seriously,  real carved pumpkins lining either side of the track.  We did that last year and the candle light combined with the locomotive steam pooling on the ground was spectacular.  A fog machine would make that effect more consistent -- but on cold nights the real steam and the pumpkins was nothing short of magic.  Gonna do that again this year. One problem with real pumpkins is that once cut they start to melt, three weeks down the line they are rotted pools of moosh and more disgusting than beautiful or scary.  I cast a few from plaster last year -- but plaster isn't translucent so the effect was not the same.  Experimenting with spray-on expanding insulation and paint.  So far that is not so promising either.  Thinking thinking.

Wooden cutouts of monsters and witches. Floating jack-o'-lanterns and ghost lights, pondering how to do that.  Ghosts floating in the field.  Ok, ideas are forming but with two weeks to go to pull this off I have got to get moving.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Hello journal!! Getting to be that time of year! Holiday display season. You understood that is what I was talking about, right?

Last year at the little train in Findlay I worked on the Christmas Display. Along the lines of no good deed goes unpunished -- they have asked me to do some work on Halloween before Christmas kicks in. Yikes. Almost eight acres is a lot of territory to cover.

I will be writing in my journal -- but if you have no interest in panic holiday design and implementation -- check back after new-years. ;-)

Monday, September 13, 2004

Locomotives run straight unless the rail says otherwise.

Locomotives by their nature are inclined to run straight, the rail has the job of convincing them otherwise.  I spent this weekend volunteering with a wonderful group of people who get together to demonstrate the magic of steam power to kids and adults alike.  Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation put its the annual "Tracks to the Past" show.  (Check out the link in my favorite places!!!!)  We run a real quarter scale steam train.  This entry is going to turn all stream of consciousness on me, I have that feeling. 

Children are fascinated by the little Locomotive.  Their first question is invariably "where do you put in the gas"?  The answer -- no gas, just coal and water, leads to a look of wonder followed by a series of questions that, so far, have always ended up with something along the lines of "oh cool"!  Children are amazing.  Engine 901 is amazing.  While it pulls passenger cars that are comfortable for adults, the loco itself is small enough for a child to wrap his or her imagination around.  Steam power, kids get it.  Oh cool!

I started with the fact that Locomotives want to run in a straight line.  Steering.  I have a baby railroad in my "back yard."  Bigger than the quarter scale train but run by either diesel or gas.  We collect Industrial Switcher Engines which were used in manufacturing to move raw material in and product out of factories.  That is the hook for me with our railroad.  Our small attempt to preserve a mostly ignored part of American manufacturing history.  I like the idea that we have taken a machine that some average working Joe spent years running and caring for and probably thought that was rotting away in a junkyard, gave that machine some rework and a shiny coat of paint and put it back to work giving the occasional joy ride and a quick lesson in our manufacturing history.  My "oh, cool"!  Telling our guests who made our locos, where they worked, what they did and who ran them, if I know.

Back to the beginning, the hardest part for me of learning to run our locos was getting over wanting to steer.  No steering wheel in a locomotive, and the locomotive is designed to run straight, so the rail takes over.  No steering, one less thing to do while I operate the throttle and brakes on a machine that with every trip pays tribute to the average Joe from somewhere in the past moving American goods in and out of a factory.  Oh, cool!

Friday, September 10, 2004

Five Items in a Time Capsule


Weekend Assignment #23:

100 years from now, your great-great-great-grandchild has been assigned to write a school report on your life and times. Help him or her by putting five things in a time capsule.

Five Items to be left in a time capsule. Five items standing proxy for me one hundred years on. Hmmmm

The items that I have chosen are in the photo above.

Item 1.  Hard to see in the picture -- but in the center foreground on my key ring is an old fashioned skeleton key that worked the lock on the door to one of the third floor bedrooms at my Nana's Lake house. The key is mere symbol, the doors at that house were almost never locked.  As children we visited every summer.  As an adult I had the privilege of living there with Nana and Mom.  It is my Brother's home now. Almost a hundred years and three generations, the lake house has been an absolute in a world of constant change.

Item 2.   Stack of reference books and a copy of the plans for the house that the fella and I built. The one that I am sitting in, actually.  The two of us, with the help of chain saw George (a carpenter) and 2 guys from up the road, literally built the house. Seventeen weeks -- first line on the plans to ready for carpet and move in.  No joke.  We did the whole thing including the plans, except for pouring the basement that we hired out. The house is big, beautiful, rock solid and will still be standing one hundred years from now.  

Item 3.  Index card file, index cards and Miss Roseberg's (another wonderful teacher -- Junior Year English Comp.) instructions on how to use same to compose a term paper.  Her system worked, I still use it to design databases.  One fact per card ... One hundred years from now it will still be useful.

Item 4.  A can of Pledge.  Greatest all purpose household product ever invented. Shiner of stainless steel, softener of leather upholstery, counter polish, keeper of water spot free "facilities."  That item was already out on the counter because I keep pledge close at all times, ya just never know...

Item 5. Look up.  My pot rack that holds not a single pot -- rather an entirecollection of stainless steel spoons, ladles, tongs, spatulas and strainers. I have occasion to cook, when I cook, I use lots of shiny utensils.

Thursday, September 9, 2004

An Easter Story

In the universe of stickum, the adhesive potential of flour, eggs, butter and cocoa has been woefully overlooked, I believe. A family story.
 I was too young to remember when the stickum originally stuck, my two older sisters were there and claim to remember. The story started as theirs but, it has been told and laughed over so many times that it doesn't matter if the details are exactly right. The remembering and laughing is the point.   My mother somehow acquired an aluminum cake mold in the shape of a lamb. Once an unusual piece of bakeware arrives in a home an obligation to use it develops.  It is some sort of domestic mojo. I was once burdened with a simple circular Jell-O mold. It was not long before I felt compelled to start combining ingredients, colors and garnish in an extravaganza of chilled rococo creativity. I knew that it was time to throw the thing out or enter a 12 step program when I attempted to faithfully recreate a DeLarobia Fruit Wreath using marzipan and lime Jell-O.  Anyway.  
Despite four young children to watch over, my Mother managed to mix, bake and unmold the two halves of the cake (front and back, in the event that you have never seen this particular mold). Standing the two halves together and securing them with frosting proved to be my mother's undoing. The two halves sagged, they fell over, the lamb's head came loose and a reattach was attempted (the story goes) so instead of a spring lamb resting in the grass after a frolic, the cake resembled a lamb lying on the slaughterhouse floor.   Doesn't that look awful" said sister number one. Sister number one was no more than five years old at the time and had learned that phrase from my mother so she was not to blame for the results of the use of one of my Mother's pet phrases at a truly inopportune time. As my mother gazed upon the lamb carcass cake the inescapable truthof those words must have struck like a spring thunderstorm.  Agreeing with sister number one, my mother repeated "doesn't that look awful" and suddenly swept the whole mess up into the air and onto the ceiling. Some of that cake never came back down.  
We moved from that house when I was eight. As the last box was loaded into the moving van and the entire family tumbled into the car headed for a new home in a different city, one small piece of that cake remained on the ceiling. There are things once stuck that can never be unstuck and although left behind are never forgotten.

Sunday, September 5, 2004

Goodbye Summer!

Time to put away the white shoes and the beach towels.  Pack up the cannoe and the sailboat. Out come the sweaters with the smell of cedar clinging.  Another summer waves goodbye.


By the way, feel free to swipe this gif (for personal use only of course). I invested a few hours of my day today putting it together for my new summer friends!

Tile Grout Day

Yesterday was the beginning of that thrilling month long event that I like to refer to as ...  oh, wait, I can't say that here.  Fall cleaning. Of course, that is what I call it. ::smile::  Now before any of you get upset, Fall cleaning is not in addition to Spring cleaning. In fact, Fall cleaning is what happens when I put off real Spring cleaning for so long that I have to add the task of sweeping brightly colored leaves out of the garage to my list.  I know, I know -- just embarrassing. Oh and for the previously mentioned task, I don't use a broom, I use a leaf blower.  But I was going to talk about grout.  Yes, I really do use a leaf blower to "sweep" the garage. I would use it in the house too if I thought that I could get away with it. Grout.

Tile, real floor tile, requires grout. Grout lines are inevitably lower than the surface of the tile. Dirt descends, grabs a hold, then sticks until forced to move. Oh! My floors are clean! Ewww!  The thought! Contrarywise, grout even with a twice daily assault by stiff broom and a washing at least two or three times a week gets grimy looking after a while. It is then that I drag out the heavy equipment. ::Dramatic pause::  The floor scrubber

and a ::gasp:: scrub brush.  Floor scrubber?  Yep. My grandmother used to have one, I thought that they had become extinct.  But no! Hallelujah! Floor scrubbers can still be purchased. After we built the house and made the decision to put in real tile (which was the only flooring that stood any chance of taking the traffic that goes through the kitchen and bathrooms), I realized that I needed one.

I just spent several hundred words talking about scrubbing grout. Sigh. Yesterday I spent most of the day scrubbing grout lines.  Today, I believe, is polishing cabinets and hardware. Wait 'till I tell you about that!

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Strange Dreams

Dream two nights ago.  Picture above, no real story to go with it, the above is pretty much it. Told ya this journal was going to be a collection of completely random thoughts and observations. And I guess now images that appear in dreams.  ;-)