i’ve got the power?

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Back at home, I realize that most of the packing I’ve already done should probably be redone.  One suitcase is dedicated to costuming, and contains wigs, makeup, 3 pairs of shoes that have all been test-worn to make sure they’re comfy, 3 costumes (2 dresses and one coat-and-pants outfit in case it rains), a glue gun, needle and thread, zip ties, varied types of plug adapters, some small hand tools…anything I can think of that might be useful for build/tear down as well as costume repair and daily haunt work.

I keep reminding myself that this is not China, that I’ll be able to buy things if I need them.

I keep ignoring that rational part of my brain and rethinking everything I’ve already packed.

The other suitcase contains day to day needs.  Clothing for down time, work clothing, sunblock, hats, pain killers, bandages, protein bars, antacids, Zip Fizz…I keep rechecking the weight of the suitcase, reconsidering the contents, adding stuff, taking stuff out..

Bones tolerates the chaos very well.  Because the man is a saint.

Several trips to the thrift store later, I’m pretty sure I’m as prepared as I’m gonna get.  Maybe.  Probably.

My carry-on contains,among other small items, yet another pair of shoes and a power converter with an adapter plug.  This is something that completely confused me on my China trip, and so I’m overcompensating this time around.  I think most of us know that the electricity in the US is 110V and 220V pretty much everywhere else.  Which means you need to buy a power converter.  However, the outlets are also different, so you also need a plug converter.  When I went to China, I only bought the plug converter…and honestly, when you do a search on ‘power converter’ on Amazon, you get more plug converters than power converters, so I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s not purchased both parts of the needed system.

Additionally in China, we had power surges and people using the converters that didn’t really know how to use them…so we had lots of fried equipment.  The trick with converters is to get one that will handle the wattage you plan to use…so you have to take a look at the electronics you’re bringing and figure out how strong a converter you need to purchase.  If you underestimate your wattage need, that’s when your electronics get destroyed.  After a lot of thought and looking at my budget, I decided I really didn’t need to bring a hair dryer or flat iron, so a 100 watt converter would probably be fine, and I already had a plug adapter.

I actually can’t find a pic of my adapter, but it looks sorta like this.  I purchased this power converter, which is a heavy lil’ guy, so I packed it in my carry-on bag, and while it could handle my glue gun, it probably couldn’t have handled a hairdryer.  I liked the USB port on it, because it meant we could charge multiple things at one time.  That said, if all you’re worried about is keeping your celphone charged, you could totally buy something like this and make your life much easier.

In the days leading up to my departure date, I obsess about supermarkets and food prices and how the guys don’t seem nearly as concerned as I am but I’m on a super tight budget and I am WORRIED and B1 told us to do it THIS WAY and maybe no one but me intends to do that and maybe I can get a slick little ‘buy from us and we’ll give you deals’ card from the stores but oh I can’t get that mailed to me in time and maybe I shouldn’t bring so MANY shoes but I’m so scared my plantar fasciitis might flare and that’s a hell I just don’t want to ever face again ever and is that really strong enough sunblock and…

Proof of Bones’ sainthood is that he didn’t strangle me during those final days of preparation.

 

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in which i seriously reconsider my 5K fixation

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This past Sunday was what might be my last 5K of the season – maybe my last one ever.  Not because of this experience, but because overall I feel…well, a little silly.  A little defeated.  More than a little convinced I could be getting the same actual workout by going disc golfing with my husband.

Aaaaaaanyway…

Sunday was World Run Day.   I signed up over a month ago to do the Dirty Herd 5k up at Pretty Lake, Mattawan, partly because it was sorta kinda local, partly because money raised goes back to Pretty Lake Camp and its work with at-risk kids,  and partly because the name of the group made me laugh. Bones had a thing to go to as well and somehow from agreeing the night before that us leaving at 8:30AM was fine to when we actually started to leave, I panicked and announced I would never make it on time.

This was to be true in ways I couldn’t anticipate at that point.

We got Bones to his thing a bit early, and me to my thing on time.   As in, the runners hadn’t left yet.  But by the time I figured out where registration was (“Oh, we already shut down!  Hold on…”), confirmed that yes I still wanted to do the walk, and made it back outside, everyone was gone.

I walked up to people that looked like they were working the event.  “Can I still go?”

“Oh!  Sure!  You’re just..let’s see…about 11 minutes behind the group.

“Is it well marked?”

“Yup!”

I started down a road. As it turned out, this would be the only paved path for the entire walk.  Initially there were white arrows painted on the road, but as I turned onto a dirt road, that wasn’t the case.  I fairly quickly found my path blocked by plastic orange tape, with no obvious markers telling me where to go next.

This was the…well, the fifth time that morning that I seriously considered not doing this silly thing.  I could have totally ditched and no one except Bones would have known.  I next considered crying out of frustration.  I finally decided to just duck past the ribbon and keep walking.  Worst case scenario, I figured, was that I’d have a nice walk around Pretty Lake.

So pretty, y’all.  I could hear the music of the start/finish area pouring across the water and I thought at the time that maybe the 5K/10K was just a trail that would go all the way around the lake.  And then I finally found some people working the event, stationed behind a table covered in cups of water.  They informed me that I was indeed on the right path (surprise!) and I wanted to follow the path marked by the orange ribbons rather than the blue ones.  (As a side note:  I didn’t see a single walkie on any staff person, which really surprised me.)

I hadn’t seen any blue ones yet, but I thanked them and continued..and finally did find where the path broke off.  This album gives you an idea of what the start of this event looked like.  (I never saw this many people.  Alas.)  What isn’t shown is that the trail took us off road and into the woods.  It was gorgeous and just hilly enough to make my calves ache for a day or so afterwards….and honestly, it was a little nerve wracking to be alone in the woods so afraid of falling.  My right foot is still not fully healed from all my falls last month. 😦  But!  I did not fall!

A lot of the trail followed ones they clearly use over the summer, and people that know how to read trail markers would have felt more comfortable than I did, as those trail markers were frequently placed and highly visible.  And it was honestly so lovely.  Even with my feeling nervous about falling, I loved this location and trail, and kept thinking that Bones should be there because he would have really enjoyed the hike.  At the same time, I started thinking that yeah, I could probably get the same benefit from walking along with him while he’s disc golfing…so, there’s that.

I did finally start to encounter people doing the 10K, and I passed one walker (!!!!), so I’m pretty sure I wasn’t DEAD last.  We didn’t have timing chips on our bibs, but I think my total time was probably my worst one yet – just over an hour.  OTOH, it was hilly and I got lost and I’m actually ok with my time being not too speedy.  I had a lot of time to think about my 5K fixation and just as I was thinking to myself, ‘This is really stupid.  Everyone knows you’re slow.  You’d rather be riding a bike.  You’re not ever going to run.  Hell, walking is a challenge!  What the hell are you doing?  This is your last one,’ a 10K runner passed me and said hi.  I looked up and saw he had a prosthetic foot.

I assume he also managed not to fall on this trail.

Soooooo…ok, brain weasels.  STFU.

Will I do another 5K? Maybe.

Is it in part because I got another medal?

Hell yes.

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in which i fail miserably at walking

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I’ve spent the past several weeks volunteering as a crew member for a local production of “Evita,” as well as attending meetings for a future production.  Because one of my meetings was the afternoon before a show, I had decided to go into town early, meander towards my meeting, and then explore a bit of the city before I had to be back at the theatre.

It’s amazing how quickly plans can go wonky.

Bones dropped me off by a coffee shop and had just pulled away from the curb when the sidewalk apparently twisted away from my foot, causing me to wrench my ankle and fall to the ground.

Walking has never been my best trick.

I struggled back to a standing position.  Tried to walk.  Couldn’t.

Well, hell.

I clung to a wall and tried to figure out what hurt.  The ankle absolutely hurt..but honestly?  I’ve twisted my right ankle so many times and in so many ways that generally speaking it doesn’t usually phase me for more than a few seconds.

This was something more.

The child that lives in my brain couldn’t process what was going on.  It felt like I had seriously hurt the muscles in the arch of my foot, making it wicked hard to put weight on my foot.  The only time I’d felt pain close to this was when I thought I’d broken my left ankle several years ago.  But hey, I didn’t want to vomit, so I knew it wasn’t that bad.

I frantically texted Bones as I kept attempting unsuccessfully to walk.  He offered to come back for me, but I am stubborn and decided I would will myself to be ok.  (…The texts Bones received were, of course, not nearly as confident as what I’ve just written here.)

So I stood, half leaning on the wall, half trying to figure out how to walk again.  An older woman walked past me, stopped, turned, and looked at me.  I prepared myself for the obvious question she was about to ask.

“Do you know where *mumble* Street is?”

Ok, so I didn’t expect that question.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any idea,” I panted at her.  Disappointed, she walked away.

I took a deep breath and tried to put weight on my foot again.  This time, I had better success.  I texted an update to Bones and limped to the next open door, which happened to be an old school sort of used bookstore.  Piles of books and cigar boxes (?) littered the shelves and floor.  I looked around, sorta wanting to investigate, sorta afraid I’d knock things over, sorta wondering why there was no one else in the store.

“Can I help you?”

An older gentleman holding a laptop was in the doorway behind me.

“Um…no, not really. I just…wanted to look around.”

He continued to stand there, looking annoyed.

I looked around the front of the store one more time. “OK!  So.  I….I’ll be back later.”

He stepped aside so I could hobble-escape past him.  I decided this was quite enough adventure for one day, and so I started to make my way to my meeting, where a friend loaned me an ankle brace that helped me get through the rest of my evening.

Of course…of course…my friend Jenny and I had signed up to do a 5K that was scheduled for two days after my latest failure to walk.  She suggested we might want to cancel.  But, ya know.  Stubborn.

Two days later, we headed to Lansing for the Race to Restore.  This lovely little event is a fundraiser to help maintain tombstones in Mt Hope cemetery, and the 5K consisted of two loops through the cemetery.  (I can’t actually explain the expression on my face in the following picture.)

Event photo for Race to Restore

The first loop wasn’t bad. I had warned Jenny that we would not be breaking any records today (which is a shame because there were so few of us that we maaaaaybe could have actually placed in our age groups had we not been hindered by my gimpiness).   Jenny is a great friend and insisted she wasn’t there to be speedy.

Which is good, because on the second loop, my ankle gave out on me and I fell pretty much flat on my face for – once again – no damned good reason whatsoever.

I was tempted to just…stay there for a while and feel sorry for myself.  But.  There’s not much that is as motivating to me as looking up and seeing someone on a walkie looking at me worriedly, so with images of ambulances dancing in my head, I struggled to my feet and pretended I was ok.

As it turned out, now I had a gimpy right ankle and a tweaked left knee…and no medal.  😦 Our time was a glorious 1 hour and 9 minutes, which is…ridiculously bad.  But!  We finished.  Because I’m stubborn.

The following is a bit of the text discussion between Bones and me:

Capture

..And this, y’all, is why I’m not an athlete.

But!  I have one more 5K this year, in a few weeks.  I may not make my personal best, but at least I’m sure to do better than I did this weekend. :/

 

 

 

 

camping!

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The plan was to leave between 8am and 9am. My beloved husband made the 5 hour drive to go get his kidlet Thursday night so we could leave this morning.

7am? He’s up. Because he’s awesome.

7am-8am: I cling to the bed, moaning ‘no no I don’t wanna get up..’

8am? I leap like a gazelle from the bed, realizing I didn’t pull out my picnic basket and air mattress pumps for us to use on this trip. He asks, “You have two pumps..? Never mind. Of course you do!” He laughs, hugs me, and keeps on prepping meals to take with us.

8:30am: I make coffee and feed the cats. My cat (sensitive princess that she is) refuses to eat, so she doesn’t get her vitamins. Again. Kidlet joins us in the kitchen. Coffee and bacon are consumed. I offer bacon to the kitty-princess, sneaking vitamins onto it. She eagerly eats the bacon.

9am: Kitty does a spectacular job horking up bacon in various spots in the living room. 😦 Bones says he’s nowhere near ready. Kidlet gets dressed, I putter around getting ready, packing, watering the garden.

10:30am: Bones is struggling to get all 3 bikes on the bike rack. I suggest we swap out my new bike with my old one. He makes them all fit. Yay!

11am: Yay! We leave!

11:10am: Poop, we forgot some stuff. And hey, do I have water shoes? And a hair tie for the kidlet? (Yes and yes.)

11:20am: Yay! We leave again.

12:15pm: My bike starts to fall off the bike rack at 70mph. Bones VERY QUICKLY pulls over, but the rim is bent. I say it’s ok, let’s just keep going and he and the kidlet can ride without me (…and I can do cross stitch!) He says no, let’s go home and ditch the bikes. We agree to take my bike straight to the bike shop for repairs and…we can get my old bike.

1:30: Yay! We’re back on the road!

3pm: we realize we didn’t being coats or long pants…”Wanna go back?” I suggest. Bones does not kill me..probably only because he’s driving.

5:00pm: We buy groceries. I throw cat food in the cart. “For camping?” “No, for my delicate puking flower at home.”

5:30pn: First campground is full.

6:00pm: Second campground is full..and there are a LOT of boarded up houses here that are probably inhabited by vampires.

6:05pm: Kidlet admits she doesn’t know there’s more than one kind of vampire.
6:06pm: MY HEAD EXPLODES BECAUSE DUDE, HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW ABOUT VAMPIRES?!? What are they teaching kids in school these days?? (Note: the child has informed us the past that Abraham Lincoln really did hunt vampires, and she learned that in school, SO CLEARLY THEY ARE TEACHING READING, WRITING, AND MONSTERS!!)

6:30: Third campground full. Bones is ready to go to a hotel. He looks defeated. I suggest one more GPS search and let’s make a few calls.

6:35pm: Bingo!!!! We find a campground with an open spot..5 min from where we bought groceries around 5pm.

10:36pm: Tent is up. Fire’s going. Husband cooked a great dinner. Kidlet has been riding her bike, had dinner, and decided she’s had enough of being outside an hour ago so she’s in the tent watching Youtube. I’m holding my honey’s hand, typing this, loving him a heckuva lot.

don’t say ‘yip yip yip’ say ‘RAAAAAWR!’

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In the wake of my cat’s death last week, I’m clearly not at the top of my game. Between that and my switch in focus from building to actor hunting, posts here have slower down. Alas. So this is an older one I neglected to post sooner..

~~~~~

Bones has been talking a lot about designing a scare called a ‘Big Mouth.’ It’s a scare designed by my friends Cliff and Stu over at ScaryGuys.com, and (what with my mad love of puppets) I really should have known about this lovely thing sooner.

I didn’t.

😦

So now that the walls of the haunt are all painted, and our order of camo netting arrived, Bones could go ahead and create his critter. When our non-haunty-but-absolutely-awesome pal Heidi was here a few weeks ago, she suggested Bones try using a piece of anti-fatigue foam for the teeth of this beastie, and that worked pretty wonderfully. He built a basic mouth frame out of PVC and thin wood, took another of Ursula’s sheets to make a red mouth, and strung the monster up in its home next to my booger walls.

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Camo netting is used to make the beast’s body – sorta – and to hide her until she attacks.

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The plan is for her to RAWR a great big critter RAWR…but every time he attacks me with her, I just picture her yelling, “YIP YIP YIP!” like a puppy.

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“No, it’s RAWR, dang it!!!”

But I’m pleased to say, even our Swamp Monster understands that little kids aren’t our target audience, so don’t scare them too much…

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PS. PTSD, or how I learned to hate mortar lines

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(The following post first appeared in my Other Blog on September 12, 2010, and details a job I had in Connecticut at a haunted attraction called The Haunted Graveyard).

~~~~~~

Wanna see how I spent my last week?

“So, hey. Can you paint 40 wooden boxes and those gate archway pieces to look like they’re made out of stone?”

Um. Well. I’m not a scenic painter. And I’d rather paint grout lines than stones. And and and…well. How many?

“40. Using a roller.”

“Sure. Two, 2-1/2 days.”

…Because I was smoking the crack, y0.

I had one to use as a model. We figured out that if we kept the painting to 5″ intervals, I could use a 4″ ruler and keep a reasonable grout line going.

End of day two. It’s hard to get a sense of scale, but those curving ‘archway’ pieces are…maybe 8′ tall? And required a lot of cutting-in with the painting to keep the stone look going.

(Yes, I think the stones are pretty much craptastic, though I did try to keep in mind good ol’ Philadelphia schist walls as I was working.)


Originally I was measuring and chalking lines. My boss came up with this contraption on Day 3. Saved much time and – more importantly – was so easy to use I didn’t have to explain to anyone else what I needed to have done. Which was, um, significantly more than 40 boxes.

The end of day three.

(…Insert sounds of sobbing here.)

(……..No. Really.)

(………….And YES I’m working in a friggin’ QUARRY. With barely another person in sight.)

A thing of beauty…someone else chalked the last pile of boxes to be painted! Which was even more better because I was seriously ready to quit at this point. To be fair, also at this point, the haunt owner was starting to feel bad about the task he’d given me,

THANK ALL THE GODS THAT ARE BOTHERING TO NOTICE!! THE BOXES ARE DONE!!
(Yes, I had help. And I was able to prove that I was going twice as fast as my help…and I can never thank my help enough for, indeed, helping. Even if they didn’t speak English. And took a poopton of breaks.)

I include this so you can see the tall damn pillars – way in the back – that made up the rest of those archway-ish pieces. There were actually 4 column pieces that were taller than the 4′ box pieces.

(And since I had to look at all these damn boxes? YOU DO TOO DAMMIT!!!)

limping back into biking. well, more like cursing and falling a lot rather than limping…

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I didn’t start driving until I was in my 30s.  Frankly, I missed out on the need to drive when I was a teenager because I could – and did – bike everywhere I needed to go, including work.

One of my earliest memories of a family outing is sitting in a kid’s sit perched on the back of (I think) my mom’s bike.  My brother rode in a similar seat on my father’s bike, and we were gliding down a biking path that seemed narrow and woodsy and more than a little wild.

Jump forward quite a few years ahead to my ability to ride – and decorate – my own bicycle, which I did for the 4th of July for the three years we lived in the small town of Berkshire Heights, PA.

bike 1baby nerds r us…I’m to the right

bike 2

totally won the following year!
(mostly because my bike was rained on and the streamer colours all ran together, which looked awesomely artsy but was completely accidental)
(still, yay silver dollar!)
Jump forward a few more years, and my siblings and I were all given 10 speeds.  Glorious day!  Mine was a bright yellow piece of poo from Sears – a Free Spirit, to be exact – and it tried to kill me on a regular basis.  Not a single pair of my shoes had toes on them because they served as my brakes.  I carried tools on me every time I rode to try to fix the drifting gear shifter or to realign the wheels in the desperate hope that I might actually get the brakes to work.And I rode the dang thing everywhere.  This was during the era when parents didn’t ask where the kids were going..just please, please get out of the house.  My home not being very homelike, I was much happier outside, exploring the local farms and construction sites.  The local boys sorta put up with me, and sorta didn’t – I was definitely the wrong gender to be tooling around on their dirt bike ramps – but we could more or less ignore each other.

When I moved to Philadephia, my mother gifted me with a very nice bike that was promptly stolen.  I stopped riding and started taking public transit, so I almost didn’t miss my bike.

Then I saw 30 approaching, and I lost my mind.  I decided I not only wanted to start riding again, I wanted to do a fundraising ride from Philly to DC.  300 miles, baby!  LET’S DO THIS!

I signed up for the Philly AIDSRide with zero training and a brand new $350 bike that was too big for me but that I loved madly.  I had it equipped with SPD pedals, which I also loved madly, but honestly between the pedals and the bike I’m not sure how I avoided breaking a leg.

bike 4“I agreed to *what*?”
I passed out from heat exhaustion (I think) on my first day at the halfway point.  All those rolling hills that cover Pennsylvania?  They are a complete bitch to ride.  There’s something, though, about being in the middle of friggin’ nowhere – no cab in sight – that makes you want to keep on going.  That and I’m a stubborn gal.  After I passed out, I wanted to keep going, but I was told I couldn’t.This brought me no joy.

Day 2, I only made it halfway as well…but I didn’t pass out.  Yay me!  All told, I rode about 150 miles in 2-1/2 days with no training, which is sorta kinda impressive.  Sorta.  (I’m still annoyed at myself for not making it further.)

bike 5..and I’ve always had those unfortunate arms…
I didn’t ride a whole lot after that.  Eventually, a haunt-related injury in which I dropped a theatre flat on my left foot would make it pretty impossible for me to use those SPD pedals – my foot would start to cramp up within minutes of being pushed into such a rigidly straight position….And then.

And then I married a man who encourages me and pushes me and pays attention to my babble.  He helped me get my bike rideable, lowered my seat so I’m almost able to touch the ground with my feet.  He swapped out my SPD pedals for the more reasonable ones I purchased, and he introduced me to the amazingly FLAT bike trails in Michigan.

First ride?  So. Much. Cursing.  SO MUCH.  And an embarrassing fear of going fast.  And oh my GOODNESS 5 miles felt a little scary. (To which my 30 year old self says, “HAHAHAHAHA 150 miles!!”)  (I don’t like my 30 year old self right now.)

But we’ve done a little longer, and I’m trying to take advantage of every chance to ride that I can.

We have a goal of doing a 35 mile ride…ya know, soon.  I’m mostly not falling off my bike anymore.  I’m starting to get more comfortable tooling around town.  It’s going slower than I’d like, but the best part is that it’s happening.  And it’s happening both with and because of Bones.