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 ugly sweater contest.  If it goes well, I should win hands down!  The sweatshirt on the right is the "base" I am starting is plenty ugly!!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

December 5, 2015

I guess I am about to enter the busiest month ever - December 2015.  In addition to the usual Christmas preparations and restoration workdays, there is this thing called Star Wars Episode 7-The Force Awakens.  Where I had hoped to get the new X-Wing costume done, it does not appear that will happen.  There are snags with fitting the flightsuit and so many details that need working on.  With everything else going on, there simply isn't enough time to dedicate to doing it right.  I did get all of the additional pieces that had to be ordered in through the mail.  The only thing really missing is the leg flares and holder and a few minor trim pieces.

Thanksgiving was very nice again this year.  I began the day with the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade down State Street.  The weather was really iffy.  It was pouring rain when I left the house and the forecast was for intermittent rain.  Thankfully, the rain stopped while I was waiting in the parking lot for the others to arrive to suit up.  We got downtown and the usual "stand around and wait" time went really fast as we were in the front of the parade this year...unit #13.  It was also on the warm side so no standing around freezing either.  The Rebels led off the group this year and our entire unit got a lot of screen time on the TV broadcast.  

After the parade was over, I made my way over to Joan's for Thanksgiving dinner.  Stef was in town this year and it was great to visit with her.  We had a lot of laughs and went over current events.  As usual, I had to leave early because I had to get up for work the next morning.  I am the only one in my family that had to work the next day.  I will be glad when I can stay in bed the day after Thanksgiving.  Stef also paid me a visit at the house on Sunday morning on her way to Bev's.  I finally got the Christmas tree up and pulled a whole bunch of muscles getting the box with the tree upstairs.  But, fortunately, since I kept moving through the pain, I think it lessened the recoup time and I was feeling better by later in the evening.

The Sunday before the parade (11-22-15), I trooped the Chicago Wolves Star Wars night at the Allstate Arena.  I had never been to that venue before and always approach these big events with some logistics concerns.  The Allstate Arena turned out to be very user friendly and we all got in, suited up, and wandered the Concourse in the hour before the game and for the first two periods.  Again, since I had to get up for work the next morning, I didn't stay late and made my way home during the second intermission.  It was a really nice event and I wore my Rebel Fleet Trooper for the first time in a long time.  The pants were getting really tight because I had gained some weight and wearing them was uncomfortable.  I have lost some weight so the costume was once again comfortable to wear.  I would still like to lose a little more...but isn't that always the way it is.

On December 1st, we did a special event down at Lurie Children's Hospital.  We had been contacted by Lucasfilm/Disney about doing the event for a new program that the company is doing with Children's hospitals called "Master Your Force".  Groups of costumers are going into Children's Hospitals across the country with help from Lucasfilm and doing a "Jedi Training" program and distributing toys.  I was asked to wear my Jedi costume, so that is what I wore.  I did NOT want to drive downtown because this event was on Tuesday when all of the usual commuter nightmares are going on.  I decided to get fully suited up and take the train downtown.  I also had to take a bus as the LaSalle Street Station is quite a long way away from Lurie's.  There was the usual last minute snafu's with people running a bit behind schedule, people getting sick, people without transportation, but finally everyone got there.  We didn't have a huge number of kids partake in the activities, but those who did seemed to really enjoy the event.  The trip home was pretty funny.  In full costume, I walked back to Dearborn Street which was the street I hopped the bus on to head north.  As I hit Dearborn I walked a few blocks looking for a bus to take back to the LaSalle Street Rock Island station and it occured to me that there would be no southbound bus as Dearborn is one way north.  So, I didn't plan for that and stood at the corner of Dearborn and something and wondered which way to go.  I ended up heading west to Clark Street and walked a few blocks south and finally found a bus stop and hoped that it went to Jackson.  When I got on the bus, I tried putting my fare into the farebox - I had 3 one dollar bills in one hand and my lightsaber in the other and tried to jam the dollars into the farebox.  I was so "in another world" that I didn't hear the bus driver telling me that the dollar bill machine was broken and "thank you"  After he said that a second time, I just stood there with the dollar bills and look dazed (I'm sure) and finally got the "thank you" to mean "go sit down".  So, long, long day but everything turned out ok.

Also, the Saturday after Thanksgiving was the annual "Work Off the Turkey" workday at my restoration site.  A couple weeks ago, Linda and I went out and got some brush piles started and ready to light off.  It was a little tight getting going, but we finally got a larger area cleared around the brush piles and at the end of the workday, we had removed another ton of autumn olive and honeysuckle and expanded the open area between the trail and the tracks quite a bit.  Slowly but surely, we are getting that project done.  I would say another 2 years and that will be completed.  There was also a reporter from the New Lenox Patriot out there and she took a few photos (one ended up on the cover of the paper) and tried to interview us, but as usual, the volunteers were all moving pretty fast so she didn't get

Yesterday was "Wear Star Wars/Share Star Wars" so I brought some of my helmets to work with me and got photos of my fellow employees doing there job with a helmet on.  It was a lot of fun, something we don't have much of at work and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

The next few weeks will be insane....I hope I have enough energy.  I at least have a few Christmas lights up and am starting on my Christmas cookies/candy.  I tried to make a batch a day the last few days.  I have nothing purchased for our Christmas grab bag yet.  I need to get to that this week because it is all downhilll (timewise) after this week.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

November 15, 2015

The next month and a half are going to be hectic beyond belief as Thanksgiving, Christmas AND the new "Star Wars" movie are hitting between now and Dec 31st.  I started with the holiday decorating yesterday by at least getting some lights put up outside since the weather was pretty good and I had a little time.

As noted in my last entry, I have been scrambling to try to complete an X-Wing costume from the new movie in time for the premier.  I had to wait to start because not enough good information was available on this costume and there are still parts that I am not certain about. New information is coming to light at a fast pace the last week or so with new trailers and TV spots. 

I have completed the flak vest (finally) and today I begin work on the flightsuit.  I also completed the ejection harness and belt.  So, it is coming along, but the flightsuit is going to be very difficult indeed.  I have a tailor that is supposed to come over today to help me to modify the generic flightsuit pattern that I have.  Where I have modified patterns in the past, it has mostly been a trial and error thing.  It will be GREAT to have someone show me the right way to do it and to take some up to date body measurements on me.  Things seem to have shifted a lot on my body as I have gotten older.  So, where I have gotten a lot done, there is still a LOT to go.

On October 18th, I did the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in St. Charles.  I managed to raise over $1,800.00 in donations which was both good and bad.  In years past, I had sometimes managed to raise over $3,000.00.  It was a beautiful day weather-wise and it is always a pleasant walk with some of my friends from the Star Wars costuming groups. 

The night before the MSABC, I attended my 50th Grammar School reunion at Gaelic Park in Tinley Park.  I was hesitant to go at first because the reality is that in grammar school I was fat, poor (which means I never had the latest of and anything but popular.  I wasn't sure I really wanted to re-live that period of my life.  I sucked it up and went anyway.  I did find it very interesting and pleasant.  I did a lot more listening than talking because I really didn't have that much to talk about that would actually interest anyone else.  Fortunately, some of the folks I graduated with had seen my Facebook page so they did know what I have been up to.

As always, I have done a bunch of restoration workdays for the Forest Preserve and have also been busy at work shutting down my garden for the season.  I remember when I planted the garden I thought to myself that I will be again "shutting it down" before I knew it...and sure enough...that seems to be the case-the year has flown by.

I am still no closer to deciding what to do about retirement...there are so many factors to take into consideration and it becomes a question of how long will one live?  Obviously, none of us has an answer to that.  You don't want to retire too early and outlive your funds and you don't want to wait too  long so that you have little time to enjoy retirement.

I have also been doing a ton of jam making because fresh cranberries have been in the store.  I finished 2 batches of each of Spiced Cranberry, Cran-Raspberry and Cranberry Orange.  Soon it will be time to start the Christmas baking. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

October 11, 2015

Seriously?  July was the last time I posted here?  I guess I have been busier than usual. 

Well, where to begin?

The Monarch project:

I guess I will begin with the Monarch project.  At the last post I was still raising and releasing generation 3 monarchs.  Around the end of July I started to collect 4th generation eggs and caterpillars and raised all of those with pretty good success.  I had a few cats die and one that was infested with a parasite, but overall the health of the generation 4 monarchs was very good. On August 26th I tagged my first 4th generation monarch and released it for its' trip to Mexico.  From that first one on 8-26 I released 38 more with the last one released on September 29th.  I learned a lot this season with the monarchs and got some great photos to share in Powerpoint presentations etc.  I scanned my tag datasheets and mailed them in to Monarch Watch.  Now I just sit and wait to see if any of my monarchs are found.

One thing I also did for the monarch project (besides all of the work on the publications and plants this spring) was to purchase a microscope so I could test the adult monarchs I raised for a disease called OE.  I was grateful that I found no OE on the first 20 monarchs I raised, so I then stopped testing the rest of the adults I raised.

The Garden:

Well, the vegetable garden this year was another exercise in futility.  Spring rains and flooding gave way to rabbits eating everything in sight and things just didn't seem to take off this year.  I did raise enough tomatoes for 6 jars of "Whimpy Ass Salsa" and recently had enough to can a couple pints of just plain tomatoes.  I pickled about 7 pints of beets and that was pretty much about it.  The cucumbers produced enough only to eat.  The peppers produced enough to freeze some and use some fresh.  Everything else was pretty much a disaster.  I plan to pull up the remaining vegetable garden plants today and bag them.

The flower garden was ok this year too.  Again the rabbits ate so much of the native plants that I had put in the last two years that some things just did not have the ability to come back.  It seemed that the rabbits especially loved all of the milkweed I planted this year for the monarchs.  It was to the point where I was not sure I would have any milkweed left.  The rabbits damaged started to diminish a little toward the middle of the summer and with putting protection around some, I managed to get some of the milkweed to survive.  What did do VERY well was the cardinal flower and the great blue lobelia.  They both set seed last year and I got some new plants come up and bloom.  Some of the great blue lobelia is blooming still.

I have already cleaned up a lot of the garden already and today plan to put much of the rest of it "to bed".  I am leaving some of the blooming annuals out simply for color and will leave them till frost finally kills them.  I also did some trimming of the spicebush out front and removed one of the "Red Prince" wiegela.

The House: 

I spent the entire Labor Day weekend laboring.  I decided to paint the kitchen and living room (except for the walls that were green) white.  It took me literally all weekend.  I did a few other things like helping Paul spray phragmites and reed canary grass at Hickory Creek Junction but mostly the entire rest of the weekend was spent prepping, painting and cleaning up.  It is gonna be a damn long time before I paint again.  I HATE painting and wish I could afford to pay someone to do that.

I started to look at new flooring for the kitchen, but found I really can't afford that right now.


Another thing that has been constantly on my mind is retirement.  I am exhausted from my job as I feel totally stressed every day and really have not had a good vacation in probably a decade.  I am making the same amount of money that I was making in 1991 - so that is not good either.  I am working harder for really less money and the only way out is to retire.  I read a bunch of books on retirement and ended up more confused than ever.  I decided to see a retirement planner, one that someone I knew personally also knew.  I am still trying to formulate a game plan on retirement, but the planner stated that I did do a reasonable job of my finances.

Star Wars stuff:

I really cut back on my costume appearances this year, but still managed to do a few. 

On 8-22-15 I exhibited at the Mokena/Southland Maker Faire.  I had seen some information on Maker Faires the last couple years and thought they looked very interesting.  Doing Star Wars costuming IS making stuff, so I applied to be an exhibitor and the folks who ran the Faire were very enthusiastic to have my SW stuff there.  So, after work the night before I brought a ton of costume pieces and display tools and what not for things like leatherworking, and molding and casting. 

The next day was spent at the booth all day.  A few of my fellow Star Wars costumers came and suited up as well.  We were very well received and one of the guys who was running the Faire told me that he had been doing an exit poll and asking people what their favorite exhibit was and over 50% replied that they liked the Star Wars exhibit best.

I costumed the Christ Children's Hospital event on Friday 8-28-15.  As in previous visits, we went on the floors to visit the kids.

One of my fellow St. Rita grammar school graduates asked me if I was going to be part of the SW costumed people at his wife's fundraiser for the Oak Lawn Children's Museum.  Initially, I was not going to because I had a large restoration workday the day before.  I decided to suit up and headed down there.  This event was 9-27-15.

Yesterday Artoo and I were joined by Steve M. and his grandson and we costumed the "Star Wars Reads" day at the Mokena Public Library.  It was very laid back and the time passed quickly.

As far as costumes, I did complete the dark brown linen Jedi costume and have been at work making an Episode 7 X-Wing Pilot costume.  I was lucky to be able to get the exact boots, gloves, and belt used in the movie.  I am now struggling through the making of the flak vest.  There is a whole lot to be made but I am glad to have the pieces that I do have.

I have also been doing endless workdays for the FPDWC with big ones like National Public Lands Day, 2 Sharefest workdays and a large Tuesday workday with 160 students from St. Ignatius High School.  The weather for all of those workdays was pretty warm, so I felt exhausted after each one of them.

Upcoming in the next few weeks is Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and my 50th grammar school graduation reunion.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Another month quickly they do go.

The last month has pretty much been in pursuit of the same old, same old.  Working at my restoration site battling invasive species.  Working on my garden battling rabbits that are eating everything.  Working at work, butterfly monitoring and generally doing nothing spectacular.

I got a chance to visit with Caroll Martin when she was in from Seattle a couple weeks ago.  Had hoped to spend a little more time with her but it was not to be.  Had lunch with Rick Hannah last week.  Rick came to the house and I honestly could not remember the last time he was here.  We had a nice chat and he took home some car models I had to build.

As noted, I have been fighting rabbits in the garden all this season and have given up.  The rabbits ate my snow peas, snap peas, and now the green beans that I tried to plant.  Where I have always had rabbits hanging around, they never did much damage.  This year has been totally different as they have eaten just about everything in sight from the vegetable garden, to the milkweeds I planted to the new plants I bought at the native plant sale.  Next spring I will have to cage the plantings in the garden off.  I just don't feel like bothering for this year as it is already July.

I have also been raising and photographing monarch caterpillars.  Where I have not found as many caterpillars as some years past, I have had some extraordinary experiences in this endeavor and several firsts.  This was the first year I have raised a caterpillar from an egg and got to photograph that.  For the first time I also got to photograph the shed skin of the caterpillar going from one instar to another. 

I also had a lot of caterpillar death that I am not used to.  I never really had caterpillars die, this year I lost quite a few to parasites and for unknown reasons.  Very disheartening.

I attended the Bartlett Parade this year as the weather wasn't too terrible in the way of heat.  It was a day in the low 80's which is tolerable for that parade in the middle of the day.  I wore my "summer Jedi" and still was sweating pretty bad by the end of the parade.  The Jedi boots I wear with that costume do make things a lot easier on the feet.  All in all I enjoyed the day visiting with some of the Star Wars folks that I have not seen much this year and was glad I did the parade.

I have been working also on a new Jedi costume that I hope to make into two Jedi costumes.  Using 10 yards of a dark brown linen/cotton blend, I made the traditional Jedi tunic set first.  Next, I hope to have enough fabric to make the sleeveless version too.  The nice thing is that I will be able to use the tabarads and obi from the traditional version to wear with the sleeveless version so that will save a LOT of fabric.  I am just finishing that up and only have to hem the sleeves and the tabards on the first version.  It came out pretty good.  The one thing I can't understand is that I have certainly gained weight since the Jedi pattern I used was made, and I have cut the pattern down in some places a couple years back, but the finished costume still seems too large on me.

Thursday after work I had a reporter from the Tribune here do interview me on a piece he is doing for the Trib on Star Wars.  He has interviewed a bunch of different people for different reasons.  The reason he wanted to interview me? segment will be "growing old with Star Wars".  In other words, what someone a LOT older than most thinks about the Star Wars franchise.  It was interesting and there is supposed to be a photographer sent over here maybe next week.

I ordered some new quarter panels for the Jeep this week....sigh...I really thought that when I replaced them the last time that they would last a LOT longer than they did.  I am not happy about the job done by the Body Shop and before these new panels go on, I am going to think a whole lot about my options.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 14, 2015

Finally am making a new post in under a month! 

We have been getting rain just about every other day the last couple of weeks.  Rain is better than drought, but sometimes too much rain can be problematic too.  This morning we got another deluge after several downpours yesterday so the garage and back yard are under water...again.  Great for the wet loving plants, but not so good for others.

This year I have tons of rabbit issues.  The rabbits are eating everything in my yard.  They have completely destroyed most of the new milkweeds and other native plants that I put in this year.  They also are eating the vegetable garden.  Things like beet tops and snow peas are getting badly eaten, the snow peas are actually not salvageable at all.  I have to start rabbit proofing some of the garden or I will have nothing.

Another Joliet Library Star Wars Day has passed.  I can't believe how this event has grown and changed.  Growth and change are not always for the better either.  The event is not fun for me anymore as it involves so much work. 

I spent months building that Hoth tatical vidscreen and where it came out nice, the display didn't really gel as a whole and I was disappointed by the total end result. 

Thankfully, the weather was nice.  Even though it was not really hot as it could have been, I still managed to be soaked with sweat the entire day. 

This year we had something like 130 costumed people and probably 11,000+ people were estimated in the crowd.  These figures are a far cry from what we started with - 12 costumed people and less than 100 people who came to see us.

The weather has been goofy this spring and I finally got out to butterfly monitor.  I went this past Tuesday by myself and Sally and I both went out yesterday.  Yesterday's route census went very well.  There were not huge numbers of butterflies, but we did get a nice variety of them.  It also was nice to see the Skippers back, they really have been absent the past two years.

It has been jam making time for sure!  I have gotten some great fruit over the past few weeks.  Apricots have been plentiful, gorgeous, and cheap.  I have made 3 different kinds of apricot preserves.  The Serviceberries are also ripe and I have made that jam as well.  Found out that you can cook and run the serviceberries through a food mill one day....get the pulp..refrigerate...and then actually cook the jam another day.  The texture is off and I had to really cook the pulp/puree down.  I am not sure it is going to set properly either.  Lesson learned.  The cherry tree has produced a fairly good crop this year and those are ripening fast as well.  I am picking daily and putting in the freezer and will make preserves when all of the cherries are done being picked.

I have spent most of my free time the last several weeks spraying invasive species at my restoration site and fighting weeds in my own yard.  It is a never ending battle.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

May 17,2015

Well, I am certainly NOT doing much with my blog of late.  I could have sworn I made a post in April.

Ah well, life has been pretty ho-hum anyway.  I have spent most of the last 5 months sick.  I got my sixth cold right after attending C2E2 in late April.  I had just gotten over cold #5 and was starting to actually feel human again when that last cold hit me...and hit me hard again.  I am now starting to feel ok again and I don't know what I will do if I get one more.  The upside of being sick is that at least I have lost some weight.  When I wore my Endor Trooper costume yesterday, the pants were definitely a lot looser...but I still can't get rid of my stomach. 

Anyway....I spent nearly 5 months constructing the set piece for the Joliet Library Star Wars Day event that will be the cornerstone of our Rebel display.  After all of those months, it feels great to say that my part of the project is finally done.  I still hope to add lights to the piece but that ball is in the court of one of the other members of my costume group.  There were a lot of ups and downs on this project and probably things I would do differently.  I am reasonably satisfied with the results.  Now I have to concentrate on other things that go into the display.  I started to work on some signage - that is something I am not very good at.  I lack graphics skills.

I did one Star Wars event in March and had not done any events since December.  On March 25th there was a child's birthday party that was looking for Stormtroopers in nearby New Lenox.  Normally I NEVER wear my Stormtrooper costume unless things are desperate. 
Well, the New Lenox party was desperate for a Stormtrooper as that was the birthday boy's favorite character.  The member who took the event as coordinator did not fit in his TK costume anymore and the other member going didn't have a Stormtrooper I signed on.  Thankfully, member Crix also came in his Stormtrooper. 

It was a short event and the weather was cool and sunny.  Where I generally hate wearing my TK, this event was perfect for wearing it.

In April I went to C2E2 at McCormick Place.  I got the ticket super cheap and parked in the nosebleed parking lot so it was not that much of an expense.  I wore my Hoth Trooper as it also was a perfect costume to wear to this event.  The weather was cool, so going outside to take a break to cool off was an option I used a couple times.  There is a lot of walking at McCormick place and the Hoth boots are super comfy so that was another win.  I generally just hung around at the Nar Shaddaa Base's fan table and had a few people that were looking for me for some costume advice.  There was also a member from Australia in town that I had wanted to meet.  I was successful on all counts...all missions were accomplished. 

I do find that now that I am really looking and feeling old that I am not so inclined to do as many Star Wars events.  I don't like the way I look and the ever present arthritis pains don't allow me as many hours of pain free enjoyment.  Yesterday I did do one more event at the Joliet Historical Museum.  I especially wanted to do that event because the Museum is the "home" of the Rebel Base for the Joliet Library annual Star Wars Day.  The staff at the Museum is always so good to us and the event yesterday was kind of a kick off event that had kids (and parents) doing a scavenger hunt for SW figures throughout the Museum.  It was a free day for families and gave them the opportunity to see the Museum exhibits as they looked for the figures.  I wore my Endor Commando yesterday because a new member was showing up in her just finished Return of the Jedi Leia.  She did an awesome job...and was a lot of fun to talk to.  The weather was really warm and muggy though and I soaked my headgear with sweat in no time.

I have also spent a LOT of time working on a project for the Master Naturalists called the Will County Monarch-y.  3 of us wrote a guide for installation of a Monarch habitat.  I spent a lot of time on writing, research and going through my photos.  In addition to making the guide, I also have been trying to raise milkweed seedlings and digging some prairie plants from my garden and potting them up for distribution.  It has been a lot of hours.  The front of my house looks like a nursery with all of the plants and seedlings.  I will be loading up next week and bringing them to the Will County Farm Bureau.  It will be nice to be rid of all of them.

I have also been trying to get my own garden in.  Thankfully, so far the flooding this year has been minimal.  With the last days of warm weather and rain the garden is already becoming quite the jungle.  Weeds are everywhere and things are leaping out of the ground.  I almost have the entire vegetable garden planted.  About the only thing left to put in the vegetable garden is the tomato plants.  I raised a bunch of them from seed and they are ready to go in.  We are going to have another cold spell later this week, so I am holding off on putting them in the ground.  The lettuce is already just about ready for cutting and I think this will be the best year for my beets and carrots in the last 3 years.  So much flooding the past two years left my veg garden a mess.  We are due for some storms later today and I am just praying that they are not that bad.

It goes without saying that I have spent a lot of time also doing volunteer work for the Forest Preserve District of Will County.  I managed to get a chance to do a burn at Messenger Woods because it was on a Tuesday.  I have also done a lot of foliar spraying of garlic mustard and reed canary grass and all of the other bad stuff.  The fun never ends!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March 1, 2015

Well, Happy New Year -  2 months late.  I can't believe I have not posted here in over two months.  I guess one could say that I was more than a bit busy. 

The last event I did in Star Wars costume was 12-21-14.  I was the event coordinator for a Pops Orchestra event at the Rialto Theater in Joliet.  I wish I could have actually seen the performance as I love to listen to Star Wars Music Live.  It was also difficult to get members to participate in costume.  I am ever grateful to the few people that did show up.  We took a LOT of photos and some of the people coming to the performance were actually there to see us.

In December, I became the LMO of the Rebel Legion and that has been a very time consuming task.  I usually spend about 2 hours a day (sometimes MANY more hours) on that endeavor. 

The weather has been brutal again this last couple months.  Snow and cold are the watchwords of the days.  There have been a couple significant snowfalls and the temperatures have dipped to record levels on some days.  There have been few days in the past two months where the temperature has been above freezing.  When this kind of weather drags on for months, it really starts to get to you.  Couple the bad weather with the fact that I have been really sick since the beginning of December, and you have a very un-fun period of time. 

I have done several sewing projects for people over the past couple months and also one for myself.  I decided to get serious about dying fabric and went through a really time consuming project of removing the color from my tan Yavin Tech jumpsuit and then re-dying it.  The color came out awful so before it dried, I re-dyed it again in the original color I dyed it in the first place.  What a waste of time and materials.  I also sewed a tusken outer robe for a friend using the drop cloth that he gave me. that stuff tough to work with.

I also started a very large project with the U of I Extension Master Naturalist Program and have been spending a LOT of time doing research on that.  The program is with regard to the Monarch butterflies and their disappearance in our landscape.  There are several reasons why this is happening, but our group will address the one thing we CAN change, and that is the loss of milkweed plants due to agricultural practices.  Where we can 't do anything about agriculture, we can urge homeowners, business and civic concerns to add milkweed into their plantings.  I am working on a brochure and flyer for the group and have been active buying milkweed plants and also starting seed.  This will be a long term commitment.

On January 24th, I hosted the 22nd Annual "Frozen Butts" workday at Brightway Prairie/HCB.  It was one of the few nice days we experienced the past two months.  The temperature went above freezing and the day turned out really nice. 

As always, we got a LOT done and had a great time.  After the workday I hosted the Pot Luck at my house.  This year I had purchased tables rather than rent them and with another donated table and some donated chairs, we got by fine in the small confines of my house.  As always, the food was great.  I really enjoy this workday even thought it is a LOT of work for me.  I baked cookies for the 10:00 AM break and made a whole bunch of pulled pork and salads for the pot luck.  Then there is the set up and clean up of the Pot Luck. 

One of the biggest projects I have been working on for the past two months is a Hoth set piece for the Joliet Library Star Wars day and the Discovery World event in October.  It is a re-creation of the vidscreen at Echo Base.  I have spent a lot of time on finding and buying materials and then set out to start the construction.  The first part I got done was the vidscreen itself.  I had to cut a sheet of plexiglass and then take pvc pipes, cut channels in them for the sides and top of the plexi.  Once that was done I started work on the two legs of the piece.  I don't have a lot of fancy tools so doing a lot of the work was challenging.  Crix Turner stopped by after I  had some of this done.  Crix is a carpenter and member of Nar Shaddaa Base and made up the blueprint and built the top of the console of the set piece.  Wow, he did a GREAT job and I could not have done the project without him.  The piece is now pretty much fully constructed.  I have to finish putting the outer "skins" on all the pieces and then the mind numbing part of sanding and painting.  I have several thoughts on the whole painting thing, I am just not sure what direction to go.  For now I will continue to work on the legs.