Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June 14, 2016


The weekend of June 4th and 5th was pretty heavy duty.  I think it took me several days to recuperate from that.

I took June 3rd off as a vacation day to go to the Joliet Historical Museum for set up for Joliet Star Wars Day.  I packed the truck up the night before with the exception of Artoo who did not fit.  On Friday morning, I had a member stop at the house to load Artoo in his car and we made our way to the Musuem.  Set up went very smoothly as there were several other Nar Shaddaa Base members there to assist with all the unloading and set up.

The next morning it was a very early rise to suit up and head to downtown Joliet.  The weather was threatening rain and possible storms, but the mood was still positive.  The parade did happen because the rain had held off for a few hours.  The parade associated with this event is very short, but the streets were lined with a lot of people.  I spent mostly all day at the NSB/RL table selling "hold out blasters" that a bunch of us purchased as our charity endeavor this year.  Sales were very brisk and we ended up selling out of the little blasters found at the Dollar Store.  We made $650.00 off the sale of those blasters and the $$ was sent to a member who is sick and has mounting medical expenses.

We had a good number of members from other Bases show up and they all reported having a good time and I think that many of them will try to make it again next year.  Hopefully, as the years go by we will have more and more Rebels in attendance.

This year our display featured our Pilots and we certainly had a good variety of different Pilot costumes.

I had my traditional one beer at the "after party" but didn't stay really long as the next day was to be yet another big event.  The great thing about this year is that I did not have to take down and haul home the display.  The display was left at the Historical Museum where it will be "in residence" for the entire month of June.

On June 5th, I took part in a very special SW event for a Make A Wish recipient at the DePaul Theater of the Arts on the north side of Chicago.  The MAW boy wanted to become a Jedi.  Anytime I have to go into the city, I always allow extra time so I left pretty early.  I also brought along an extra Jedi costume for someone else to wear.

The whole thing was a little surreal.  We did a walk through on stage of the program that was put together by another member of NSB.  We barely got back to the dressing rooms and were told that the MAW boy had arrived.

I had made the boy's Jedi costume for this and was relieved when he was suited up in it that it pretty much fit him.


One part of the program was lightsaber training and all of the Jedi were on stage for that with dim lights, lightsabers humming and going through "training".  

After the little boy was declared a Jedi, he was knighted and then taken around to meet all of us.

The event went rather well and by the post at the MAW Foundation, our little program was successful. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

May 29, 2016

Memorial Day weekend arrived and with it the opportunity to get a lot of chores done.  I typically spend long weekends working on the "to do" list and in the spring that usually means garden chores.  I have just about all of the vegetable garden in now.  The weather has been pretty cooperative the last week and this spring as a whole.  Where April and the beginning of May were pretty wet and cold, the last 2 weeks have been warm and dry and the ground was pretty workable.  It had gotten to the point where it was too dry but a nice 1 1/2 of rain arrived Friday night.  I brought the chainsaw out and took down the wafer ash in the yard, as it looked really terrible.  It was misshapen from the time I planted it and I thought I could eventually prune it into a better shape, but it just didn't seem to cooperate.

The Joliet Library Star Wars event is less than a week away now.  Hard to believe!  I have that on my to-do list this weekend to get all remaining projects wrapped up before set up on Friday.  I decided it was time to wear the Naboo Pilot costume for the before parade photos and for the parade itself.  After the parade, I will be changing into street clothes to put the Naboo Pilot costume on a mannequin.  I need to drag that costume out and put it on to see what needs attention/repairs.  I have only worn the costume 2 times and it has been years since I wore it. 



Stick a fork in it...it is done!!  My Episode 7 Resistance Pilot is finally finished (except for the inevitable tweaks) and I actually wore it to an event already.  Since I was busy with the display for JLSWD and William's Jedi costume, I knew that I would not have time to finish this costume so I commissioned a seamstress to put the final pieces I started together.  It was over 2 months that she had the flightsuit pieces I had started and had given her...and it was coming down to the wire.  After I finished the display and costume for William, I did finish all of the projects on that costume that I still had to do.  I put together the new chestbox, made the leg flare holder, worked out the attachment of the hose and worked on some tweaks to the flak vest.  Where I am never happy with anything I make, the Resistance Pilot looks pretty good.  It is a pain to wear...but aren't all of the costumes a pain to wear!

And, speaking of wearing it.  I gave the Resistance Pilot its' first road test on 5-21-16.  I wore it to an event in Shorewood that Crix's company was sponsoring.  It was a "Build a Bike" event where kids came and finished putting a bicycle together and then could keep the bike.  It was at one of the Shorewood Firestations that my "MapQuest" led me astray.  I usually have little trouble finding places using MapQuest, but clearly in trying to find the firehouse, they made some errors!  Fortunately, I ran into Crix as he was also riding around trying to find the Fire Station.  Where the costume is hot (aren't they all), it is actually fairly comfortable.  The one huge pain in the ass is the hose from the chestbox.  It is large and stiff and just a general pain in the ass.  I have a second chestbox that I think will be worn more often as I don't intend to add the hose attachment to that chestbox and can leave off the hose at some events. 

On 5-14-16 I ended up going to Soldier Field to do the "Autism Speaks" walk.  It was a nice and cool morning and I had tickets to an exhibit at the Field Museum for later in the morning so I decided to also suit up and do the walk.  Always strange to change into costumes in the locker rooms that professional football players use on game day. 

We don't get to use the Bear's locker room...but we do use the locker room for the visiting team.  I really have not done that many events this year as I have been too busy with other things.  I did enjoy doing this event as it wasn't that long of a morning.  With all of the arthritis issues, I find that I can not do long events anymore as I am in just too much pain. 






After the "Autism Speaks" walk, Laura Smith and I walked over to the Field Museum as I had a ticket to see the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit and Laura is a volunteer at the Field.  The display was amazing...the whole thing is amazing!  I saw a special on the Warriors some time ago and marveled at the whole thing.  I never thought that I would be able to see one of them close up as it was VERY unlikely that I would ever get to China. 






Since it is spring and all of the invasive species are doing their best to flower and set seed, it has been a busy few weeks of spraying at my restoration site.  The weather has not always been cooperative either as trying to find windows to spray have been frustrated by rain and threats of rain.  Tomorrow I will be going out to spray reed canary grass one more time as that is starting to form seed heads rapidly.  We have also found some serious issues of destruction from off road bikes at my site and a variety of other issues there....it never ends.







Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May 10, 2016

Spring has sprung, and with it all of the chores of garden and restoration.  The weather has been truly all over the place, but it has been rather mild and wet.  Thankfully there have been no severe thunderstorms and weather events this spring.  We did have one threaten a couple times but nothing materialized.  I did have to send my generator out for repair after all of these years.  It is fixed and ready for the spring storms.  Which, speaking of storms, the neighbor's mulberry tree split badly at the crotch and was likely to come down on my power lines and garage.  With a storm due to come through that threatened hail also, I had to climb a ladder with a chainsaw and under power lines take down a huge portion of that tree.  Nerve wracking to be sure, but thankfully it went well and I didn't kill myself. 



I did finish the display for the Joliet Library Star Wars Day event.  All in all, I am fairly pleased with how the vidscreen came out with its' new panel.  The curtains are done as well as all of the pvc for that.  As in previous years the Rebel display will be at the Joliet Area Historical Museum and they have asked me to leave it up for the month of June following the event.  Works for me, then I don't have to lug it home following the event.  The thing I just need to work out is costumes on mannequins. 



I also had to start and finish a Jedi costume for a Make-A-Wish event we are doing the day after the Joliet Library event.  We are to make the patient "William" a Jedi.  So, to be a proper Jedi, you need a proper Jedi costume.  I made William an entire Jedi costume including outer tunic, inner tunic dickey, tabards, obi and robe.  One of our other members made him a belt, pouches, and a lightsaber.  It came out very nice, I just hope it fits him!!



The last month has been endless workdays for the FPDWC.  Not only have I been doing workdays on the weekend, I have also had my Tuesdays tied up and some nights after work also.  Then there has been the usual endless mixing of herbicide.  We found some serious issues at Hickory Creek Barrens with regard to mountain bikers tearing up a lot of different areas and one of the other volunteers who is a Trail Sentinel has done some great detective work in finding the culprits.  Signs have been put up, but it is anyone' guess how much of a deterrent that will be. 





This year I finally went down to our secret bluebell area and was stunned at how the bluebells have expanded the last couple of years.  The area was absolutely gorgeous and it was nice to just go and enjoy.







Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April 5, 2016

March turned out to be a pretty interesting month.  To kick off the month I ended up in Silver Cross Hospital for a couple days.  I went home from work on Monday March 1st and did not feel well.  Later that night I got fever, chills and just felt blah.  Tuesday morning being my day off, I felt lousy and nausea set in all day.  I never got out of bed really and hoped I would be better by morning to go to work.  Wednesday morning, I could not make it to work.  I think I can count the times on one hand that has happened on probably 30 years.  So, I stayed home and figured if I didn't feel better by Thursday morning, then I needed to get to a doctor.  Thursday I could not make it to work and barely had the energy to go to the Minute Clinic at Walgreens.  They said I was too sick for them to treat and I should go by ambulance to the emergency room at Silver Cross.  I opted for going to an urgent care nearby...they said the same thing.  I drove myself to Silver Cross emergency room and got admitted.  Where I felt lousy, I didn't feel "in-patient" bad.  To make a long story short, I ended up staying at Silver Cross from Thursday morning till Friday night with complications of the flu.  The oxygen level in my blood was too low to support function of my body.  I basically got 2 days of oxygen and a started on Tamiflu.  They didn't want to release me unless I took home an oxygen tank and set the house up for oxygen.  I declined and drove myself home and picked up a prescription for 3 more Tamiflu pills.  By Saturday morning, I went to the store and purchased an Oximeter so I could see how my blood oxygen levels were doing, they were bad but coming up.  By Saturday night I felt much better and my oxygen levels were also stabilizing.  I went in to work on that Sunday for over 10 hours as my desk was starting to look like a bomb hit it and as the week went on, I started to feel better and more often, better than I have felt in quite some time.  To be honest, I have felt like crap for 3 years now after a similar bout.  I don't feel like I ever truly got better. 

March was a very busy month.  I did several restoration workdays and a couple projects for the Master Naturalists.  It took about two weeks, but I put together a large information board on the Monarch project.  I don't know what or how they are going to use it, but I made it. 

I also signed on to a invasive plant phenology project.  The project entails going out between the 8th and 14th of each month and looking/reporting on the status of invasive species growth.  March's report showed honeysuckle starting to leaf out, autumn olive and buckthorn with bud swell and reed canary grass coming out of the ground.  Those reports are then sent to the Extension Forestry Dept to be added to a monthly report. 







I also did a few Star Wars events.  On Saturday, March 19th I headed to C2E2 at McCormick Place in my Hoth costume.  The focus of the day was to get a photo autographed by John Ratzenberger (of Cheers fame) who was a cast member for the Hoth scenes in "The Empire Strikes Back". 



Not only did I get a photo I had of him already signed by him, Kathy VanBueningen, Steve Mamman and I (All dressed in Hoth costumes) also took a special photo with him.  I don't have much of a budget and I said that day I spent all of my money on John Ratzenberger.  Autographs and photos of celebrities cost a bit of money.  Thankfully, I am not normally a "celebrity" person and don't generally bother with autographs.  I am also generally not a "Con" person, but had some interesting times through the course of the day.






The next day (March 20), I attended a Blue and Gold Cub Scout banquet in my X-Wing costume and brought Artoo along. 
The event was for the son of one of the Stormtroopers that lives in New Lenox.  I was very grateful that he came to the event for Mark and Sally Wieclaw and the New Lenox Relay for Life and thought it important to support those that supported me.  It was also a very interesting day. 



Spring is trying to break through, but the weather is all over the place.  We have had days in the upper 60's to low 70's and right now it is only in the upper 20's.  I have been taking plants in and out for the last two weeks.  It has also been WINDY!!  Some days the winds hit 60 mph.  A possible storm was headed our way so I decided to see if my generator worked.  I could not get it started and there seemed to be something else wrong with it so I had to call the local repair shop to pick it up.  After about 10 days, they brought it back (over $100.00) and I hope it works.  I have to get out there this week and try to get it started.  I have also transplanted some seedlings and moved other seedlings like the tomatoes to a bigger pot.  I hope the weather straightens out a bit so I can leave the plants out for longer periods of time.

I also continued work on the display piece for the Joliet Library Star Wars Day event.  I started that in February making the curtain panels and the pvc stands for the panels. 


I got that all done and painted and now have moved on to making the new graphics to replace the sheet of plexi in the current Hoth Vidscreen.  I got the new plexi cut and masked and painted the lines that will divide the display into 3 parts.  I have my ideas on what to put in the 3 panels, but am not too clear on exact layout.  Working on this project made me haul out the Cricut machine. 



Where I was not too happy working with the machine on the Hoth project, new graphics purchased on line have made some of this job easier as purchasing the real deal is easier than trying to create your own graphics to use.  Today I am going to try to get some of the layout on the plexi and more of it cut.  Getting the stuff laid out will be a pain. 





And, since I have not gotten to the movies in quite some time, I want to get out to see "Divergent-Allegiant" which is the last of the Divergent series of books.  It has been so long since I read the book, I don't remember much other than "Tris" gets killed at the end...let's see if the movie follows the book.  I suspect that it will as the previous movies in the series followed the books pretty close.









Sunday, February 21, 2016

February 21, 2016






February has been strange in the weather department for sure.  One day it is snowing and zero and the next day it is 60 degrees.  I have been doing some seed starting with mixed results.  I will need to re-start some of the tomatoes but the peppers came up nicely.  I wonder what this garden season will be like.  One starts out each year with renewed enthusiasm, but the last several years have not been good due to a lot of spring flooding.  We will see what 2016 brings.

On 2-6-16 I went to the Hollywood Blvd Theater in Woodridge to see "The Force Awakens" for the third time with a bunch of members of the Midwest Garrison. We had a private screening at noon.  The Hollywood Blvd theater is an experience in itself. 



There is so much to see in there besides the movie.  Each theater is decorated with a theme from an iconic movie.  The theater we saw TFA in was based on the Wizard of Oz.  Where I do like TFA, I guess I am not as blown away by it as some are. 




I have been doing some workdays for the FPDWC, both public and just going out on small workdays and scouting missions.  On Feb. 14th we had the annual "Dick Wunderlich Memorial Workday" at Lockport Prairie.  It was very well attended and we got a lot done.  It was certainly tedious work as most of the buckthorn addressed was small so it was 3 hours of bending over with a chainsaw getting medium and small whips.

For this workday I always bake carrot cake.  This year I got a heads up that we were going to have a large crowd, so I had to bake two of them.

We will be following up with two workdays in the next couple months for more cutting and a big herbicide blitz of the re-sprouts and seedlings. 

I also went out to Hickory Creek Junction doing a scouting expedition with the steward and we found many, many interesting things from forts being built on FP property to a very busy family of beavers and the results of their tree removal.  Yesterday I went out to HCB with Linda and we did a lot of cutting of autumn olive with hand tools.  My right shoulder is still screaming about that one. 



On 2-18-16 I attended a kick off rally for the New Lenox Relay for life at the request of Sally and Mark Wieclaw.  The Relay will be themed on "Star Wars" this year, so they asked for a few costumed participants. 

I was very grateful to get Laura and Chris to come and I think our presence helped a little with the enthusiasm.  They took a lot of photos of us to use on their Facebook page.  I need to go and find their fundraising page and make a donation too. 

It was a short evening, but I find it difficult to do evening events these days and get up for work the next day.  I was so tired on Friday, but soldiered on. 

I have many, many things on the agenda for the next couple of weeks.  Again, it gets more and more difficult as I find myself with less and less energy.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 31, 2016

Wow, we just entered 2016 and a month of it is gone already.  It is hard to think back over the month because I really didn't do anything significant, yet have been busy since my last post. 

Well, one thing for sure is that each January, there is the "Frozen Butts" workday.  This year was the 23rd annual FB workday and where there is always lots of planning and work, this one didn't seem nearly as stressful.  I had the pot luck that follows the workday at my house again but with the two tables I bought and lots of chairs that people brought along, things went very smooth. 


The workday went great as the weather was really decent.  We had a high in the 30's and no rain or snow.  There was little snow on the ground so we didn't have to "trudge" through deep snow and the other vans were able to get down the trail to transport participants in. 







We are continuing the work along the trail in the area between the trail and the tracks which is what I hope is the last major cutting event at Hickory Creek Barrens. 








We also had the annual Resource Management meeting that I usually have to attend to get my chainsaw safety training done.  There was also a workday at Sugar Creek Admin the next day that was brutally cold.  Very few people showed up so we only worked 3 hours instead of 4.  My chainsaw was giving me no end of grief too, so between the cold and the saw, the workday was very challenging.


At work they decided to have a chili cook off so I searched the internet for competition chili recipes and found a lot of them.  Most real competition chili does not have beans in it, but after a Facebook poll, I found that probably 95% of regular folks like beans in their chili.  So, I combined a bunch of those on-line chili recipes and added beans and cooked it in the slow cooker for 6 hours.  I then froze the batch and am ready to bring it in for the cook-off.  I have no delusions....lol...I usually don't do well in cook-offs.  The last time I entered a chili cook off I made Southwest White Chili....it came in dead last as I don't think most people can get past the color.  Chili (I guess) should be red.

One of the other volunteers who is cleaning out his parents house offered me a potting bench that his mom had used.  Making a potting bench is something I always intended to do but never got around to make.  Now I don't have to.  The bench is 8' long and about 2' wide and was all in natural wood.  I decided to spruce it up a little and sanded the top plywood and shelf plywood and then painted it with some old exterior paint I had in the basement.  The pieces came out nice. 















I let it dry for over a couple weeks and yesterday I took my jigsaw and removed a square big enough to sink a plastic tub into so that I can use that to keep potting soil contained.  I will see how good it works later when I go downstairs to start seed for milkweed for this years Monarch project.





I also spent a weekend going through a lot of stuff in the basement and cleaning it out.  After reading the book "Lights Out" about the possibility of long term power outages, I felt it was time to put an emergency plan into effect.  I went through my camp gear to make sure my campstove and lantern worked and that I had fuel.  I also went to the store to stock up on "essentials" like paper and canned goods and even things like flour, rice and other staples that I put down there in mouse proof containers.  I also purchased water and filled some of my water carriers with water and looked at the condition of my water filter from my backpacking days.  I feel I am ready at this time to deal with probably a month of no electricity...perhaps longer. The basement is looking a lot more organized and I do hope to get most everything up off the floor.  I am also going to Home Depot this morning to get a much longer florescent light to put above the potting bench.

Also on tap for today is making blueberry jam as blueberries have been on sale.  Yesterday I made a batch of "Mega Berry" jam...I had a bunch of blackberries and raspberries in the freezer...I added some of the blueberries and some strawberries too.  It came out good...always unsure of flavor though.  Is there a too strong berry or do they mix well.  I have found strawberries to have a really strong flavor and only put a little of those in the mix.


 At the monthly Pot Luck for the Master Gardeners/Master Naturalists, I heard about an Eagle's nest at what was said to be "McClintock Woods".  I was given coordinates and never heard of McClintock woods so I found that McKinley Woods might be the right place. 

With very little money to spend the last years and high gas prices, I have been unable to just drive somewhere and look at things and do a little hiking.  Now that gas prices are (temporarily) low, I decided to just go to McKinley woods and take a look around. 



It really is a nice place.  I didn't find an eagle's nest but did enjoy hiking around the area and also the I & M State trail which is there also.  There are campsites at McKinley that look REALLY nice.  It might be a good place to camp a night and get away from it all. 









Sunday, December 20, 2015

December 20, 2015

NO....I  have not seen the new Star Wars movie yet!  I hope to go on Tuesday.  Things have been rather rough the last couple weeks.  I have had a lot of SW events lately, and suffice it to say that the experiences at them have not been awe inspiring.  I did not finish my Force Awakens X-wing pilot and more or less have put the costume away.  I don't know that I will bother to finish.  Where I have known for several years now that short and old women get little love in the galaxy far, far away, the point has been driven home a LOT lately and I realize that my time in costuming is probably over.  Some say to make the new Leia costume, but early reviews of the character lead me to believe that there is little interest in her or her costume.  There is supposed to be a new female X-Wing Pilot in the new movie, but, as always....she is young and pretty...two things that I am not.

But, moving forward, I did make an appearance at the Bridgeview ToyCon event that I have done every year since 2004.  This time I wore my Imperial Gunner costume since I don't wear that much and it is an easy trooping event so I can wear the helmet for brief periods of time without the fan (which broke) before things get so steamed up under there that I can't see. 

Next, I did a marathon for the Toys For Tots event at Martino Jr. High in New Lenox.  On 12-9 (Thursday night) I hauled the Hoth Vidscreen, Artoo, and a costume to the gym at Martino and set up the entire thing.  Friday after work, I went home, got suited up and made my way to the event to "appear" from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. 




The next day it was back to Martino to costume the event from 10:00 AM till 1:00 PM. 

On Friday, I wore my Rebel Fleet Trooper costume which got absolutely no "love".  On Saturday I decided to wear what I had completed of my Episode 7 X-Wing costume.  That costume generated zero interest as well.







  Experiences at these events plus a few other events have just not been great.  Where I  have always made costumes that I like and the rest of the world be damned, I have come to learn that the only one interested in these costumes is me and that does not lend itself to a great experience.

Work has been difficult, and the lack of interest in my costumes led me to just bail out of the movie premier and all of the associated costume events. 


Yesterday I did another restoration workday and came home tired and full of pain.  I also had my ulcers just go crazy for a time at the workday but worked my way through the pain.  Today I am taking this rather hideous Star Wars sweatshirt and making it more ugly for a contest at work on Monday...an ugly sweater contest.  If it goes well, I should win hands down!  The sweatshirt on the right is the "base" I am starting with...it is plenty ugly!!