Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22, 2013

Only a couple days more and the Christmas madness will be history.  Just can't get into Christmas anymore and am always happy when it is over.  I finished up the last of the baking for the family cookie exchange and have been making a LOT of preserves this past week.  Today I need to wrap the few presents I have for the family dice game.  I bought a few funny items to wrap.

This morning I was up very early and made Cranberry/Orange preserves.  I used my Spiced Cranberry Jam recipe and left out the spices and added orange peel and orange juice.  Yesterday I did a workday at Messenger Woods and handed out Spiced Cranberry Spread to all of the usual suspects as a little Christmas present.  I will be making some cran-raspberry preserves later on this morning after I go to Aldi to get sugar as I am all out again.  Now that Dominick's is closing, I have to find a new place to grocery shop and Berkots is too expensive so Aldi is what I am going to try.  I have some other fruit in the freezer and on my last trip to Dominick's on Friday I bought the last two pineapples that they had.  Those pineapples were peeled, cored, and ground up and are now in the freezer for when I get around to another batch of Pineapple/Grapefruit preserves.  May also try Pineapple/Orange.  I will miss the great and inexpensive fruit that I have been able to get at Dominick's the past few years and don't know that I will be able to make as much preserves as I used to because I just don't know if I will be able to find good and reasonably priced fruit.

Last weekend was another restoration and Star Wars weekend.  I had a restoration workday at Hickory Creek Junction.  The snow fell all morning when we were at the workday and there was a good bit of snow on the ground.  This week temperatures moderated and we even got rain.  A lot of the snow has been washed away and replaced by ice.  Today we may get more snow, I hope it is not a lot.  I think that in the south suburbs we are not supposed to get as much.  This week I bought new tires for the Jeep-perfect timing.  I found that with the new tires I am not getting that horrible wobble in the front end anymore.  I almost replaced a lot of the front end parts in the hopes of getting rid of the wobble, but thought I would buy the much needed tires first.  Turned out to be a good move as it would appear that the wobble was indeed coming from the tires.  I also had a new engine block heater power cord installed in the Jeep.  The cord that you plug into the outlet gets real brittle with all of the engine compartment heat and it starts to crack.  I found that the last time I plugged in the engine block heater that it didn't work so I suspect the cord was at fault.  It is supposed to get REALLY cold again this week, so for sure I will be plugging in the heater and hope that it works.

Last Sunday I did do a Star Wars event for Toys for Tots at Cantigny Gardens. I wore my Rebel Fleet Trooper costume and was, once again, the "lone Rebel".  I only stayed for a few hours as I do seem to get bored easily these days.

Well, back to chores and some much needed house cleaning now that the laundry is done.  It is a good thing I have like 50 pairs of socks cuz I think that half of them were in the laundry basket.

This past Tuesday was the last Master Gardener Pot Luck for the year.  I enjoy those monthly meetings a lot.  I brought 4 of my preserves along for the gardeners to taste test and evaluate and the Cran-raspberry came out the winner.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 14, 2013

Oh the weather outside know the rest.  It has been a pretty brutal start to winter 2013/2014 and winter hasn't even officially started yet.  Several days this week have had windchills in the minus teens area and real temps of single digit.  Broke out the engine block heater on the Jeep the other day and trying to stay warm.  I only keep the thermostat on 60 in the house, so it is more than a bit breezy in here.

The last couple weekends have been all about doing Star Wars events.  There seem to be so many to do lately.  Last weekend I did 3 events in two days.  I keep saying I am going to do less events but have somehow managed to sign on for more than I anticipate. 

So, Saturday Dec 7th saw me loading up Artoo and heading over to Martino Jr. High to the bi-annual "Star Wars Museum" event for Toys For Tots.  It was a last minute event that I had done in the past and had a great time at.  It is also a very local event and I do like to do events in my community.  Since it was only Robert Redden, Artoo and I for Saturday's troop of this 2 day event and Robert was going to wear his Commander Cody, I opted for my rather cheesy "Clone Wars Inspired" Jedi costume. 

There was a steady stream of participants most of the day while I was there.  I brought some of my blasters and a few other things to display in the "Museum" part of the event and we took photos with the participants. 

At one point in the day a reporter from the local paper (New Lenox Patriot) came by and staged some photos for the paper.  I didn't expect that they would be published and was floored when I found out this week that the photo appeared on the front page.  I left the event about 1:30 PM as I had some things to do and another event the next morning in addition to returning to the Martino event for day 2.

Sunday morning found me at the 10th Annual Toy Con Charity Toy Drive in Bridgeview.  I have done this event every year since the first one in 2004.  It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years doing this event.  I had a lot of costumed folks show up for this event and it was mass chaos as usual...but that's what makes it fun.  We also raised $200.00 for Children's Treasure Chest for Pediatric Oncology.  I briefly went through the actual Toy Con part of the event and looked at some toys but resisted the urge to buy anything as I am still trying to sell off a good portion of my Star Wars collection. 

I stayed at the Bridgeview event till noon but had to make my way back to Martino Jr. High to finish up that event and bring home Artoo and the pieces I had on display.  While we were at ToyCon it started snowing and where there was not a lot of snow, it was just enough to cause delays in traffic and more than a few accidents.  It would seem that Midwesterners forget how to drive in snow over the summer months.  I got to Martino and finished suiting up but the event was pretty much winding down by the time I arrived .  A few of the other Rebels from Nar Shaddaa Base joined me.  They had gotten into a bit of a traffic jam on I55 due to the snow.  We hung out for an hour or so and had a great time just shooting the breeze and greeting the few people that were still filtering through the event.

This week on Tuesday it was bitter cold so I stayed home in the morning and made my last batch of fudge for Christmas and made a very interesting jam using fresh pineapple and grapefruit.  It really turned out VERY good!!  Very labor intensive as I "candied" one grapefruit rind to add into the pineapple and juice of the same grapefruit. 

After finishing up the jam and fudge, I went to the show to see "The Book Thief".  I enjoyed it a LOT.  Last week I also got to the show to see "The Hunger Games/Catching Fire" - also VERY good.  Since it has been quite awhile since I read the book, I don't know how close it followed it, but I do know that reading the booked helped me understand the story better.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 1, 2013

Yep...December 1 already.  Every year by this time I have lights outside, tree up, cookies baked, Christmas letter done....but ...this year...I have NOTHING done!!  Kind of the way my life seems to be going this year....pretty much nowhere!!. 

Anyway, even though I have nothing done for Christmas does not mean that I have not been busy.  Last Wednesday I had to go to the north side of Chicago and take my Illinois Pesticide General Standards and Right of Way exams.  That pretty much ate up an entire day.  I have started to do some Christmas baking and fudge making as time permitted, but I still have some to do. 

I have been very busy doing Star Wars events the past couple weeks and have several others coming up.  On 11-24-13 I went down to the Rialto Theater in Joliet.  The MWG was asked to decorate one of the trees for the Festival Of Trees.  Each year trees are decorated by various groups and auctioned off with the proceeds going to the up-keep of the Rialto.  It was a pretty laid back event.  I had decorated some store ornaments and provided a collection of Burger King toys from 2005 to add to the tree.  Now we will see what kind of donation that tree gets. 

On Thanksgiving morning I headed to the Blue Line Station in Forest Park to meet up with some of my fellow Star Wars costume friends and from there we headed downtown to the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Last year we were #91 in the parade but this year we scored the #13 spot!  I gotta say it was great to be at the front of the parade.  A LOT less standing around.  Last year the weather was beautiful so standing around wasn't too bad.  This year, however, it was cold on Thanksgiving Day.  According to the weather forecaster, it was the coldest Thanksgiving in 24 years.  It didn't seem too bad though. 

I wore my Snowspeeder Pilot costume and had no real issues with being cold except for my hands.  They were shot even with two pairs of gloves on.  I made it to Joan's house but was really tired.  I visited with the gang but didn't stay for dinner as I knew that I was going to have a rough day at work on Friday.

Yesterday I had my annual "Work Off the Turkey" workday at Hickory Creek Barrens.  We had a great turnout and got lots of work done as we continue "marching" our way southward in an area between the trail and the railroad tracks.  I was very glad that Linda Andrews and I did several outings to the areas we worked in last year to do follow up as you could really notice that time had been spent doing the very necessary spraying of re-sprouts and seedlings.  I have some high hopes for that area once some good seed starts making its way up there. 

Today is going to be spent getting caught up with all of the things I have not done yet for Christmas.  I have almost finished putting up the tree.  I plan to go out to American Sales this morning to buy some lights for outside.  I am tired of the same old/same old that I have decorated the outside with for the past 25 years and I don't feel like putting lights up on the house or in the bushes outside (most of which I removed) anymore so I am going to see if I can find some inexpensive light up alternatives.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 17, 2013

Cripe, it seems like I just posted to my blog and now looking, it has been another month! 

Sad as it is, Christmas is coming a LOT faster than I would like.  I usually have a few things done by now, but this year I have NADA.  Today is the day I at least start baking as I have some stuff I mail out to my sister and godchild in Utah.  I also plan to get out to do what little Christmas shopping I actually do.  I give homemade gifts mostly and buy a few things for our Schulte Christmas dice game.

It has, as always, been a busy month.  I have tried to get out to do as many restoration workdays as I can and also have spent some Tuesdays at my restoration site.  This coming week I will be off on Wednesday instead of Tuesday because I have to take my dreaded Ill Dept of Ag Pesticide Applicator and General Standards tests.  I have to go to the north side of Chicago to do that and am NOT looking forward to that.  So today I plan to do more studying for that in between doing laundry, baking and a myriad of other tasks.

I did get to the movies last Tuesday (because the weather was bad) and saw "Ender's Game".  I really enjoyed it and the ending was a bit unexpected. 

On 10-26-13 I loaded up Artoo and went to Bartlett to a photo shoot for Tusken Raiders.  The MWG gathered up 17 Tuskens in a remote gravel area in Bartlett and had a professional photographer there. 

The weather was nice, a bit cool but not bad for late October.  It was amazing to see all of those costumes.  I just wore my Rebel Tech costume because I was Artoo's handler.  They didn't use Artoo as much as I thought they would, but I guess I was still glad that I brought him along as I did get a few good photos with Artoo and one of the little Jawas.

Last Saturday, I had a Star Wars event that is close to my heart.  We did the Max Lacewell Foundation Gala in Woodridge.  We were there as a group to be auctioned off for charity. 

The winning bid for an appearance by us Star Wars geeks was $750.00. 

One thing this year is that it seems that the fall colors were especially vivid.  I took some time last Sunday to take a walk at Hickory Creek Barrens and capture the great fall color.  I don't walk at HCB just to walk, most of the time I am working on something, but for this day all I brought with me was a camera. 

I sent a couple of the photos to the Nature Conservancy as they were looking for photos of natural areas.  I don't expect that they will use mine, but it didn't hurt to try.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 22, 2013

Last week was my birthday - it is just hard to wrap my head around the fact that I am 62 years old.  Where indeed does the time go?  I have been feeling particularly old lately because the arthritis that is setting in is starting to get really painful.  For several nights the past few days it has been difficult to sleep because of all the joint pain in my hips.  Where I would have probably not believed it before, I do think that the weather plays a large part in the amount of pain.  Since my birthday fell on a Tuesday this year and I was off, I wanted to do something special and fun for a change.  I honestly could not think of a thing that I wanted to do that I could actually afford to do.  I would have liked to take a nice, long walk in one of our natural areas but the weather did not cooperate.  I did take an amount of money that I had put aside and went to my favorite store - Half Price Books.  Things are REALLY cheap there and I bought a bunch of books and videos to enjoy over the upcoming weeks.

I have also been finishing up the garden clean up.  I finally pulled up the last of the tomato plants and the vegetable garden.  I think I finished just in time as it is really cold this morning and possible frost.  I took the last of the tomatoes and made a final batch of Whimpy Ass Salsa and also took a bunch of the berries I had put in the freezer and made Triple Berry jam. 

Sunday was the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.  This year it moved from Aurora to St. Charles and a new walking venue.  I liked this years venue a lot more than schlepping around the Chicago Premium Outlet Mall as we have done the past 7 years. 

We had a great bunch of costumes on hand this year and our team came in as the top fundraiser. 

I ended up the top individual fundraiser.  That was weird because I have had larger fundraising totals in years past and was never the top fundraiser.  MSABC has been expanding the last couple years and adding walks so I guess that is why I did better in the "standings".  It doesn't matter where one falls in the overall race for donations...the important thing is that one does what they can.  I wore my X-Wing Pilot costume on Sunday and am ever grateful that I have lost enough weight the last year that this costume is once again more comfortable. 

There was a time not too long ago that I could barely zip up the flightsuit and that was bumming me out.  The flightsuit is now much more loose but I would love to lose more weight.  One of the things I bought on my birthday was a Billy Blanks Bootcamp DVD (for 2 whole and went through it once and plan to add it to my "rotation".  I have no delusions that I will ever be 128 pounds again, but it is still great to start feeling a little better about myself....old wrinkly face aside.

I did another workday on October 12th and the chainsaw was still behaving itself.  I did, however, hit another piece of barbed wire and that is not good for the chain.  We are working in yet another new area of the Preserve.  I am getting a little frantic at having so many areas "under construction".  It is hard to keep up.  I am hoping that the FPDWC gets my site burned this fall as that makes going out to work in areas a LOT easier. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

October 6, 2013

Been more of the same the last couple of weeks.  Thankfully, I have finished painting the house!  That nightmare of a project is out of the way but I still have some trim to paint and a decision about replacing some of the windows in the house. 

The project to replace the roof on the Jeep is also finally done.  The headliner is all back in and next on the agenda for the Jeep is new tires and trying to figure out the exact cause of the front end shake at 60 mph and above. 

Last Saturday was National Public Lands Day and it was another chainsaw workday at Romeoville Prairie.  It was really a warm day so that was a little hard on the body.  At least my chainsaw was behaving itself.  Looks like the problems with the saw were probably narrowed down to gasoline.  I used to buy 2 gallons of gas at a time for my old saws and with the new saw, I went down to a gallon at a time.  Looks like the Stihl is so fussy I can only buy 1/2 gallon of gas to mix at a time as the saw does not want to run on gas that is even a couple months old.

Last Sunday I did a Star Wars event-  a 5K for the Max Lacewell Foundation.  It was a super early event which was nice for a change.  It was at the Bolingbrook Golf Club which was an easy drive and I got there around 6:00 AM.  By 9:00 AM we were done with the event.  Basically we were just there to lend atmosphere to the event because our little friend Max (who we did a fundraiser for and then he passed away at age 6) loved Star Wars.  We cheered the runners on as they headed off on the 5K and as they returned.  I didn't do a hell of a lot when I got home...too tired from the workday and the event.

Yesterday was Star Wars Reads Day.  There were a bunch of events to choose from as every Library and bookstore tries to request an appearance by us for this day.  I chose 2 events to attend.  In the morning I was at the Frankfort Library and in the afternoon I was at the Plainfield Library.  I had Artoo with me so that adds a layer of stress and extra lugging but he is usually worth the effort.  Kids and adults always are appreciative to see Artoo.  I wore my Imperial Gunner costume for both events.  I don't wear that costume much and have been struggling with putting fans inside the bucket now for months.  The first two fans I had in there just didn't do anything.  I had larger fans, but anything more than just one of them and the 3 - 9Volt batteries could not even kick the fan on.  So, I put only one of the larger fans in that the batteries will operate and the fan worked GREAT yesterday.  It was hot out and I would have melted and fogged up my lens so bad without the fan.

 That single fan circulates a LOT of air, I could not believe how much.  Although I did not run the fan continually, I did run it a lot and the batteries held up well.  If that would have been my TK bucket, the battery would have been dead in 10 minutes.  The one drawback - the fan is noisy!  I got used to the noise after a bit but I know that people can hear it running.  Of course the good thing is that people can hear something running but probably don't know what it could use their imagination as to what is going on under that 

On Tuesday of this week a bunch of us Rebel Fleet Troopers did a photoshoot at the Joliet Historical Museum.  We just wanted to do something that was just for fun. 

We tried to make some funny shots using a TK target.  We also tried to do a few photos recreating one of the scenes in "A New Hope" that had RFTs in it and lastly we made a little Public Service Announcement "movie" that was a little over a minute and a LOT of fun to do. 

Today I am taking it easy again.  Doing laundry and putting away all my toys.  I might take a run out to "Apples on Oak" later on this afternoon and see what they have that is ripe.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 18, 2013

Good lord, it has been a month again since I posted here and it is tough to remember what went on the past month.  One thing for sure is that I have spent the last 3 weeks or more sick with another horrendous cold.  I have had worse, but this one is once again just hanging on.  I lost my taste buds for over a week at the onset of the cold and was beginning to wonder if I would ever taste anything ever again.  After a couple days, you get a little crazy.

Labor Day weekend came and went also and as usual, all I did all Labor Day weekend was labor.  I started the job that I have been putting off for 2 years - painting the outside of the house.  It didn't look too bad until I started to get a fresh coat of stain up and then you could see how really bad it looked.  I took down all those cheesy window "shutter-like" things I made and don't know that I want to re-paint them and put them back up again.  They look ok except for the fact that they are supposed to be a deep forest green but are now almost aqua due to fading from the sun.  They sure have been up a long time so that is to be expected.  I have the East, West, and South sides of the house done and the North wall with the back door but I still have the North Wall of the SW room to do yet.  That is the wall with the 2nd story peak and I will need to get a taller ladder to finish.  I hope to finish up this weekend. 

On 9-7-13 I went down to Pekin Il to do a Star Wars event.  We did the Pekin Marigold Festival Parade and then we had the Star Wars Academy Game set up in the children's area.  The parade stepped off at 10:00 am and I could not believe how many people were along the parade was amazing.  We marched with two SW Celebrities who came in for the event.  I was walking along next to a Jeep with one of our members dressed as Chewbacca sticking out of the sunroof and that is all I heard all down the route was..."'s Chewie"  It was a really hot day again and in Pekin they have really had no rain in a long time so everything was super dusty.  I just felt completely gritty after the parade and 3 hours of Star Wars Academy. 

This past Saturday I did the Sharefest workday at Hickory Creek Junction.  We had a good number of volunteers show up and got a nice bit of work done.  I was the only chainsaw operator and my saw was giving me no end of grief.  I finally got fed up with the saw.  I hit a piece of barbed wire that I didn't see and that took out one chainsaw blade.  I put a new blade on the saw and promptly hit the dirt with the saw running....that effectively took out the second blade.  The saw also didn't want to stay running.  Since the warranty is still in effect, I took the saw in to get looked at on Monday.  I never really wanted to buy a Stihl saw because I know they are "fussy", but at this stage of the game, I needed the anti-vibration that the saws have built in.  I feel like it is a no win situation.

I did a couple more butterfly monitoring routes and am calling that task over for the year.  The butterfly counts have really been pretty dismal this year.  A lot of times in the fall I have a LOT of skippers in the yard, but this year there are hardly any at all.  Speaking of the garden, I am really ahead of the game in garden clean up, I am actually pretty much done at this point and there won't be as many leaves to deal with this year as the big ash tree is gone next door and so is that crappy poplar. 

Last Sunday I took a bunch of my Star Wars stuff to ToyCon to sell.  I didn't sell a whole lot, but I definitely got rid of some things.  I was especially grateful that a lot of the small stuff is gone.  Most of that was really worth nothing and certainly not worth putting on e-bay.  If I didn't get rid of it at ToyCon, I was pretty much gonna throw some of it away. The Star Wars room is looking a lot more empty, but there is still a whole bunch of stuff I want to get rid of.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 13, 2013

I blinked...July is gone and August is almost half over.

I have not done much in the way of anything lately, just the usual.  Spraying at the prairie, working in the garden, working on a new costume and staying home a lot.  Real estate taxes were due and I just paid them....ouch. 

Right now another big expense is in the works....a new roof on the Jeep.  The old roof rotted away and since I plan to hold onto the Jeep for as long as I can, a new roof was needed.  Here is a photo of my convertible Jeep when the old roof was removed.  The new roof is on and it looks great.  I still have to put the headliner back in.  The old headliner was a mess so it was necessary to recover the old fiberglass headliner with new padding and fabric.  It is done but just not installed yet.

I did do one Star Wars costume event last month.  We were asked to appear in Tinley Park at their "Music in the Park" series.  The real challenge was getting there.  I didn't know it as I made my way to Tinley that night, but there was a HUGE concert at the Tinley World Theater and traffic was a MESS everywhere. 

I also have been doing a little more jam making.  The chokeberries from my tree were ripe so I made jam from them.  I think I might have picked them a little early but the birds were circling and that usually means things are getting ripe.

The costume I am working on is a Y-Wing Pilot.  What an exercise in frustration.  Many of the pieces I already had and I am not going to do the helmet.  The helmet is optional and they can be very expensive.  Since I doubt that I will wear this costume much, I could not see spending the money on it.

Also, I am continuing to try to sell off my Star Wars collection and it is going dismal!  I have an opportunity to get in on Cheryl's yard sale that is advertised on Craig's List so I packed up a bunch of stuff and I am heading to her place on Saturday.  I could really use the money right now to help pay for the Jeep repairs.  Cheryl did very well last weekend and she is continuing on this weekend with another yard sale.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July 13, 2013

The last week or so has been the 4th of July Parade season.  The morning of the 4th I drove up to Racine WI for their annual Parade which is the 5th largest in the country.  The WI Garrison has had a float in that parade for many years and they don't just make a "sissy" float.  The float is constructed on a flat bed trailer and pulled by a Semi.  Each year has a different Star Wars theme and this year was Lego Star Wars.  The float, as always, was genius and looked great.

 Last time I did this parade I walked the nearly 4 miles, but members of Nar Shaddaa Base wanted to dress in Rebel Fleet Trooper this year and my RFT boots are not made for walking so we rode on the float.  I guess I prefer to walk and be down near the crowd.  It didn't feel the same up there on that flatbed.  As always, the crowd was enthusiastic to say the least and usually erupted as "Star Wars" went by. 

Then on Sunday, July 7th, we had the annual Bartlett Death March.  The Bartlett Parade generally ends up to be one of the hottest days of the summer.  This year it did not start out so bad but temps shot up to probably close to 90 degrees as the parade stepped off at 1:00 PM. 

I wore my "Clone Wars" inspired Jedi costume that is a little cooler than my other Jedi costumes, but still hot.  You have like 5 layers at your waist and then there is the long pants and tall boots so any Jedi costume is pretty warm.  We did another "theme" in the Bartlett Parade, we did a "farewell to the Clone Wars" group which was Clones and Jedi. 

The Jeep was in the parade again as the "medical frigate".  I gave it a good wash job and cleaning and next week we are supposed to start the project of giving the Jeep a new roof.

Today is the annual summer meeting for the Resource Management Volunteers...and...for a change I am not going.  I don't find anything accomplished at these meetings so rather than talk about restoration, I plan to go out and do some. 

I am still waiting on the results of the x-rays I had taken on my foot and hip.  The pain is there, but I do admit that the pain is lessening as the weeks go by.  I tried calling the doctor about my results from my home phone, but I don't think that the phone is working right and I don't think my voice got on their voice mail.  I will have to try to call next week from work. 

The garden is fast becoming "Jungle World" as it does every year about mid July.  I invited the family over tomorrow as a kind of last minute thing to hang out in the garden.

 I don't know if we will pull it off, but sometimes the last minute things work out best.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 30, 2013

Another month gone.  I really have not done much the past several weeks other than work.  If I was not at work, I was working at my prairie restoration site or working in the garden.  With all of the rain we have gotten this year, gardening has come down to mainly weed management as the weeds are out of control.  The vegetable garden is not doing too well this year due to all of the flooding and the insects.  Everything is getting eaten within an inch of its life.

This past Monday we had another storm rip through and this time I lost power.  Fortunately it was on a Monday and at night so I was able to get out the generator to keep the basement pumped out.  The power came back on after 11:00 PM so I was grateful that I didn't have to get up for work in the morning.

I have also been making lots of jam as the serviceberry and cherry trees put out a bumper crop of fruit.  I made 11 1/2 pints of cherry jam and 10 1/2 pints of serviceberry jam.  This morning I might make some nectarine preserves as I was able to buy some really nice nectarines this week. 

Yesterday I went downtown to Soldier Field in the morning for the annual Chicago Food Depository Hunger Walk.  I used to do that walk years ago but haven't made it down there for quite some time.  This year I didn't walk but only went down with the rest of the Star Wars costumers as "entertainment" for the morning.  I wore my Imperial Gunner costume because it was a pretty cool morning and I wasn't too much worried about the fact that I can't seem to get enough air going in my helmet with the two fans I have in there.  Those fans are pretty useless so I think I am going to remove those two fans and put in one larger one.  Even with 3 nine volt batteries hooked together there is not enough juice to power two of the larger fans.  I thought that the cfm moved by the two smaller ones would be about equal, but it does not work really well at all so back to the drawing board.

I have also been out butterfly monitoring a couple times this month.  Results have been pretty dismal.  I guess the cold and way to wet spring has played havoc with the butterflies this year and it just does not look like it will be a very good year.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 6, 2013

Jeez....almost a whole month has passed by again.  May was a month that saw me doing not much but working on different projects.  Hmmmm....that sounds about typical.

I did a LOT of work at my prairie restoration site earlier in the month at the invasive garlic mustard was growing full steam and flowering.  I managed to get as much of it sprayed as possible before the never ending rain and threats of rain started.  Can't spray in the rain or before it is going to rain and the later weeks of May it was all about the rain. 

I also spent a good deal of time working on selling off a good part of my Star Wars collection on E-bay.  It is amazing how much time that actually takes to do photos and listings.  I would sometimes turn around and a couple hours would have went by.

Since I could not do outside painting with the weather so crappy all the time, I did get some inside painting done.  I painted the computer room.  Brother, that room has not been painted in a long time and needed a fresh coat of paint.  As always, emptying the room and masking things off takes longer than actually painting and then there is giving everything a good cleaning before it gets moved back in.  I really hate painting, so I am glad to have that room done but also need to do my bathroom.  That hasn't seen any work in a very long time too.   I also have outside painting that needs to be done.  Ugh!

I finished planting the vegetable garden too and the weather has been just kicking the crap out of that.  My yard has been flooded more times this year than I can remember and all of the plants look sick because of the water logged soil.  I think I will be lucky to get much out of the vegetable garden this year. 

One of the things I spent copious amounts of time on was the Joliet Library Star Wars Day event.  I wanted to make the Rebel Legion display the best I could so I finished up a few pieces that I had laying around for quite a few years, made signage, and started packing totes full of costumes and props.  The display filled the Jeep front to back and floor to ceiling.  That did not include Artoo who was hanging out at the Joliet Historical Museum since the morning of the television taping and my lightsaber collection that was put in the display case at the Library about a month ago. 

The event was June 1, 2013 and it was insane!  I went to the Joliet Historical Museum on 5-31-13 to set up the Rebel Display and got up the next morning and headed to Joliet again.  The rest of the day and the event is really a blur.  I went from setting things up, to getting people to where they needed to go, to doing the shifts of volunteer work that I signed up for, putting out fires, and before I knew it - it was time to pack everything back up again. 

We ended up with something like 85 costumes and 5,000 visitors.  Crazy!  After the event was over, there was also an "after party" that I worked on putting together.  Things got nutty for that the last couple days.  All of that display stuff had to all be put away again and that seemed to take forever too. 

On Tuesday, I was back in Joliet to pick up Artoo at the Historical Museum and from there we headed straight to Silver Cross Field for the Joliet Slammers game.  They were having Star Wars night at the ballpark and had asked the SW costume groups to come out.  So, I figured that I would kill two birds with one stone if I picked up Artoo and dragged him along with me.  Worked out great because Artoo assisted Dan of Bug's Pals with his fundraising to buy books for the patients at Hope Children's Hospital which is another event coming up in August. 

Wednesday I was back in Joliet...again...this time to pick up my lightsaber collection out of the display case at the Library.  One thing is certain, I no longer need Google maps directions to get to either the Joliet Historical Museum or the Library....I am on auto pilot now when I go there.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 12, 2013

I have switched from a lot of indoor chores to outdoor chores as my garden and landscape are now in full blown growth mode.  We have had a decent amount of rain and some warm temperatures so the lawn needs mowing frequently and I have begun to combat weeds and tackle some pruning chores.  The chipper shredder has already made its first appearance on the driveway.  Some of the cool season vegetables are planted and as usual, as soon as I plant seed for things like beets and carrots, the local raccoons begin digging where I just planted so I had to cover those beds with some plastic netting to keep the raccoons out till the seedlings get a little established.  Same thing happened last year that the raccoons messed up my planting of beet seeds and since last year was so warm, I never got a second chance to re-plant those and ended up with practically nothing.

I have also spent the past week working on the Joliet Library/Museum Star Wars Day event.  On Tuesday I spent practically my entire day off with meetings in that regard.  I also set up a lightsaber display at the Library's display case.  I thought I would not be able to fill the case, but as always, I actually brought too much. 

I also spent a good bit of time making signage for the rest of the display and trying to go over in my mind what will be needed for the Rebel Legion and R2 Builder's display.  I will need a bigger truck than my Jeep to haul all of the stuff home.  I would love to find some old school/industrial lockers for the display and will keep my eyes open, but I don't have a lot of money to waste on that.  I can always find a use for the lockers after the event, so that is something to consider.  I did find one set of lockers on Craig's list, but it was a set of 4 and was pretty large.  I am going to try to find something a little smaller. 

Today I am heading out to spray garlic mustard at my restoration site.  I hope it will be the last time that I have to go out for the year.  I am really tired of spraying gm as I have been doing that for a month already.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 5, 2013

"May the 4th Be With You"!

Yesterday was Star Wars Day, so of course I had a SW event that I signed up for.  There were a lot of events to choose from yesterday because not only was it the unofficial Star Wars Day, it was also Free Comic Book Day, which is also a "big deal" in geekdom.  I attended a booksigning with the author Jeffrey Brown for the Star Wars book "Vader's Little Princess".  It is a children's book and is a sequel to "Vader and Son".  These books may be children's books but they are hysterical and very well done so it was a no-brainer to attend the booksigning as my May the 4th event.  The event was held on North Lincoln Ave and traffic was absolutely horrible getting there.  Also, there is no parking really on the north side of Chicago so I had to wander around to get a parking place (parking is something we take for granted in the burbs) but finally did squeeze into one.  It is a good thing I grew up in Chicago because I know how to parallel of people who grew up in the burbs have no idea how to parallel park.  The event co-ordinator asked me to wear my Stormtrooper costume which is one I don't wear often because I am too short.  It was fun to wear that costume for a change.  I was the only Stormtrooper so not as many people seemed to care that I was too short.  Anyway, it was a really nice event. 

We took some photos of us sitting and "reading" the book.  Sitting in TK armor is not easy, but I did sit and the photo came out pretty amusing.

On May 3rd I did another SW event for Channel 7 news Morning Show.  Channel 7 is doing features highlighting various suburbs.  Friday they did Joliet and the Joliet Star Wars Day event was one that they wanted to feature.  We were asked to be part of the "set dressing" for that part of the news report.  We had to get to the Joliet Historical Museum at 4:00 AM and be suited up by 5:00 AM.  I am up every day at 2:00 AM so it was no big deal for me, but it was a little more difficult for the other brave souls who came.  It was pretty wild!  There were marching bands and all sorts of other things besides made for a crazy scene for sure. I brought along my Artoo and ended up leaving him at the Museum because he will be needed there for the upcoming Joliet Library/Historical Museum Star Wars Day anyway, so that will now be one less thing to haul down there on May 21st.  The video is here:

Last weekend I spent Sunday at C2E2 which is a local comic book and entertainment convention.  I went in Jedi costume to that.  I am not much on Cons and really only went there to help out my Rebel Legion Base with sitting at our fan table and running a game for the kids.  I went in Jedi costume to this event because I knew that there would be more Jedi there besides me.  It was ok....and the day really flew by.  I must have walked 10 miles though as the game we were conducting called for me to be wandering the show floor with stickers and the kids were supposed to find me (and the others) to get one of 4 stickers.  I walked back and forth through McCormick Place (which is huge) for 3 hours.  At least I got my exercise for the day.

I have also been spending a lot of my free time spraying the invasive species garlic mustard in the woods at my prairie restoration site.  Thankfully, the garlic mustard hasn't been as horrendous as the last couple of years so I have been able to walk large areas without having to constantly re-load the spray tank. 

I also have been working in my garden a bit and planting seed for the early season vegetables and working with transplants.  The soil is finally warming up to the point where I can probably think in terms of putting some of the other plants into the ground.  We had some severe rains a couple weeks ago and I flooded from front to back.  It was miserable but the standing water is finally gone.  I just hope that we don't head straight back into another drought like last year.  It seems it is always one extreme or the other around here.