kestrel337: (Default)
Now that our trip to Chincoteague is well behind us, I'm going to be using this blog to track two things: I'm going to start running (again) with the goal of doing a half marathon by September.

And, since I've taken the job of costumer for a local community theater group, I'm going to be blogging about that journey.

Things about me, the runner:
I've done this before, with my max distance being 10K as a workout. Never ran a race that was more than 5K. I've not run since...November, I think. So, starting from the beginning again. But with the knowledge that I've successfully done this in the past. That's probably offset by the hefty dose of self-loathing for having let it all fall apart, the weight come back on, stopped tracking my blood sugars...yeah, depression is a BITCH. But next week, starting Monday, I'm back at it.

Things about me, the costumer:
I do not have a theater degree. I've not taken a sewing class since Home Ec in high school. But I love crafting and I love costumes and I love theater. And, let's be honest, these things make me an attractive prospect for a small group with slim budgets.

My first show is a period melodrama, which I'll probably be costuming at the same time as my second show, Singin' in the Rain Junior. The other thing I need to do is create a costume inventory. I've been approved as a storage facility for the entire stock, I guess it's a lot, so I'm currently working on a spreadsheet type record, perhaps tied to a photographic catalog. I'm under no illusions that this will be fast, or easy, or that I'm going to make even minimum wage.

But I have always wanted to do this sort of thing. Always. For various reasons, I let that dream go. But it came back to find me, and I'm going to grab that thing with both hands and hold on TIGHT.

So, that's that. Time to make up some tags, I guess. And decide on a posting schedule.
kestrel337: (Default)
There's a convention in town every July: CONvergence Convention. It's Sci-Fi, Fantasy, all media. Good fun. I've been twice, and this year the whole entire family is going.

Which prompted the new family rule: ONE costume, per person, per year. That's all *I* will be responsible for.

My first year was testing the waters; no costume required.

The second year, I went with oldest daughter. We decided to do Kitsune costumes, with great big yarn tails. It took several months to make the tails.

Last year we went to Chincoteague and D.C. instead.

I have ALWAYS wanted to do a Steampunk costume. I don't necessarily love the dystopian themes in a lot of the novels, but the aesthetic appeals greatly. When I started this, I knew I was too heavy to buy a ready-made corset, didn't have the budget for custom, and didn't have the skills to make my own. So I started with that concept: a corset-less costume. Well, bicycles were new in the era, and bicycle bloomers seemed like they'd be fun and funky. A vest, and a lace jabot, and I'd be good.

I found a pattern for bloomers. It was styled for a 28 inch waist. Okay, I figured, no problem, time to learn a new skill. The pattern was free, and tracing paper isn't terribly expensive. I printed and assembled the pattern, watched a few youtube tutes (maybe more than a few; I put in several weeks of research), read a few blog posts, and graded it myself. Made up a mock, adjusted what needed, made up a second mock, made a few more adjustments, and finally had a working pattern. The thrift shop is my favorite source for costume fabric. Bedsheets are great for making up the muslin mock. Sometimes there is uncut yardage, and sometimes things like curtains can be repurposed. Pro-tip: watch for fading, staining, and unpleasant smells.

Here are the bloomers, made up in an iridescent copper/verdigris taffeta.

After these were finished, I chanced to have lunch with a friend. Who used to be a professional costumer. I made mention that I was having trouble coming up with a vest pattern for my steampunk adventuress, and explained the corset situation. She pointed out that she knows how to make a corset, and would love to teach me. Okay. Let's do this. In the meantime, I started looking for a hat. I figured to just get a frame, and cover it with coordinating fabric.

Which proved more challenging than anticipated (are you seeing a theme, here?) First of all, frames aren't easy to find. Once I'd finally tracked one down, and ordered it, covering it was not quite as straightforward as I'd thought. In a moment of inspiration (not that I knew that at the time), I decided to try decoupaging torn up ancient map paper. Mod podge, paint, some scraps from other projects for embellishments, and now I had a hat.

Time to order a busk, some laces, grommets, and get started on the corset.

We started with a set of directions for drafting a pattern from your measurements, but that didn't work out very well; the end result was a corset that would draw the waist in by 10 inches . No.

Plan B: we made a dressmaker's dummy. Out of an old tee-shirt and duct tape.

Then we made the pattern by draping it. And made up a mock, and adjusted, and mocked again, and there was our pattern. We stuck it on Gerti (the dummy needed a name, yes?), and I thought, "oh, I should go get the bloomers and put, wait. I can't do that, because they're closed at the crotch. Which means, if I wear them under the corset at con, I won't be able to go to the bathroom."

Right. Guess I was making a skirt, then. Back to the thrift shop. Two curtains, and a very long window scarf, became a skirt and bustle. I made a bustle pad with scraps I had left over (there was a LOT of stuffing left from making Gerti).

We finished the corset. Now, in the months since this project got started, I was also diagnosed with type II diabetes and high cholesterol and triglycerides. Medication, diet, exercise. The total draw in on the corset? Yeah, as of the time of writing, I've actually lost MORE on my initial waist measurement. The corset does still fit, because it was designed with a modesty panel, rather than to lace completely shut.

I found a blouse at the thrift shop, that is perfect with the whole ensemble. Socks I can order online; I'm thinking ivory crochet looking knee highs.

Which brings us to this morning. A purse. I'm working on a design for a bracer, with a flap that has inner pockets to hold a bank card, ID, and some cash. But there's the matter of my phone. I love my phone. With all five of us on site, I will need access to my phone. I can build another pocket into the bracer to hold it. But.

I have the biggest phone available: Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge Plus. It's huge. I love my huge phone. But it's too big to strap to my arm. I need a purse.

I spent this morning looking at various carpet bags, tapestry wristlets, beaded vintage look things. And I found one. It's a drawstring bag with petals, and pockets inside the petals, and then a second drawstring pocket inside all that. A bit of research tells me it's called a Petal Hussif. Also, that the pattern can only be found in a book about Elizabethan Embroidered Accessories.

That's out of print.

And not available at the library.

The book will cost more than any other single piece, except the corset, and that's not including the fabric for the actual bag. Remember, I've purchased everything at the thrift shop (and I already owned the shoes).

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't actually debate about this for very long. I should have the book in hand within a week.

Oh, right.

Did I mention that I don't actually know how to do embroidery?
kestrel337: (Default)
Nora has been complaining, off and on, about ear discomfort. It was finally uncomfortable enough that we made the decision, on Monday, to just push straight through and get home.

25 hours on the road. We got home at 6:55 local time, and had her in to the pediatrician at 9:15.

That includes grabbing lunch (and a geocache) in West Virginia, and holing up in a rest area somewhere after the time-change but before the Indiana border when a freak storm made navigation impossible.

I don't know what's more 'endless'; the mountains, or the expressway in Illinois. The tollway was it's own special hell, but we made it through.

But here are some pictures from the long drive home, as well as the delightful gift of nature that greeted me this evening.

Wallops Island NOAA/NASA/US Navy facility. Sadly, we didn't make it to the visitor center. Actually, I'm not all that sad. Because BEACH.

A boat, which we saw from the Bay Bridge in Maryland.

Sideling Hill

Runaway Truck Ramp (not the steep one, sadly)

That might've been about enough...

Pileated Woodpecker in my backyard. Now, there've been these in my yard a couple times a year since we moved in. I've never managed to get a good shot of one. But the camera was still set on sport mode, and this beauty has been hanging out all afternoon, calling and flitting from one tree to another. So.
kestrel337: (Default)
I'd have gone with Arthur's self-recorded ice cream chimes, but that would've been both tedious and clear only to those who know the show.

There are three ice cream parlors on the island, two of which are marvelously forthcoming about ingredients on their website. Ice Cream Every Day!

Mr Whippy, dipped cones

Island Creamery

Mr Whippy, sprinkle cone and Banana Split

(the rest of the family was wise, and got much smaller items)

Today, it being Father's Day, Mike was given the choice, so it's back to Island Creamery. Yay!

A few other things that we found of interest:

A funny thing happened yesterday.

The girls were sitting on the beach, having a break from intense shell hunting. They were watching the waves, digging in the sand a bit. A little boy, about three years old, walked up to Emma and asked what they were doing.

"Looking for shells," she answered him.

Apparently, not everyone is down with looking for shells. He very purposefully walked away, out of sight behind them, then scooped up to giant handfuls of gloopy wet sand. His mom, over to one side, caught sight of what was happening and began moving to intercept. She had longer legs but he had the shorter distance and was driven by righteous indignation; the girls were oblivious, the sound of waves covering his approach. Just as he raised his hands up over his head, in the instant before he hurled the sand down Emma's exposed neck, his mom swooped forward and grabbed him.

She chastised him, told him not to throw sand at the girls who were just sitting on the beach, and took him some distance away where there were no handy targets.

The girls were saved, no tears were shed, and An Incident was avoided. Thank Goddess my kids are older.

Crabs. There were also mantises of some variety or other, all along a post at the Tom's Cove Visitor Center. They don't photograph very well.
kestrel337: (Default)
Best. Day. Ever.

It started with going to get our park permit. Assateague is a National Park. Yesterday, Audrey and I walked to the gate, but today we drove through. Tom's Cover Visitor Center is over there, and I thought we could visit that. We found it, but didn't actually make it inside today. Because it's also right next to this:

My friends, we have reached the beach. The Atlantic Ocean. Everything was beautiful.

So we hung out there for a little while, then we drove back to the townhome style motel. I ran to the beach wear shop next door and found mesh shell-collecting bags and a sweatshirt for me. Then it was time for our pony cruise. On a boat. On the ocean.

On the Virginia side of the island, there are two bands of ponies.

We saw both bands. Several foals.

The cruises advertise wildlife, and didn't disappoint.


Also bunches of shore birds, terns, gulls, pelicans. Bald Eagle. The lighthouse, which I might tour tomorrow if I feel up to the 175 stairs.

Our captain was AMAZING. We saw so much. No dolphins, but I wasn't unhappy about that; they're wild animals, after all. Daisey's Island Cruises, if you're ever out that way and want a recommendation.

We were headed back to the docks, and I was feeling a bit sad that the whole thing was over, but our captain had another surprise for us. He asked how old the girls are, and then...

(That's reverse age order, so Nora got to go FIRST)

Ice Cream for lunch, that was fun. Then back to the beach for shell collecting and playing in the waves. The girls and I were splashing around, getting our eyes and mouths full of salt and generally having a fabulous time, and Mike started calling me up to the edge and pointing out beyond the waves...a dolphin!

No pics, but I SAW A DOLPHIN.

There's a great restaurant that does delivery, so there was seafood for dinner (and really good pizza for those who can't partake thereof).

I'm going for a walk later, because that lighthouse still lights up.

Best. Day. Ever.

(didn't make it to see the lighthouse, but we did go get saltwater taffy before succumbing to exhaustion)
kestrel337: (Default)
We are in our little rental on Chincoteague, and half the family is still sleeping. We've not had a 'sleep in' morning until today; everyone somehow manages to get out of bed if there's a time limit on free waffles and/or breakfast potatoes.

So I've got a bit of time to put up the pictures of Martin and Arthur at the Udvar-Hazy center. Side note, I'm very proud of my family. The more 'insider' references aren't ones I found...


The Enola-Gay was so SHINY.

The ATC exhibit was really hard to take pictures in, so my apologies for the quality.

(it's the name of the plane that's important in this one)
kestrel337: (Default)
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy center. Here are some warbirds. I wish I could've seen them flying; I'm not an enthusiast by any means, couldn't identify what I was seeing beyond 'WWII, airplane', but I do love the sound of their engines. You don't just hear them. You feel them, when they fly. The engine rumbles and roars and throbs. It's very visceral and earthy, but it comes from a thing that can FLY.

This ultralight was used to teach endangered cranes how to migrate. The gear in the display case was worn while raising the chicks, to prevent them imprinting on people.

Audrey and Mike found a few things they thought Mike's brother would appreciate:

Of course, the absolute highlights of the place were the SR-71 Blackbird, and the Space Shuttle Discovery.

They don't just display things here, of course. They also have a hanger which is used for restoration. What's really neat about that is how low-tech it actually is. Because they are often making just one of a thing, there's no reason to make fancy mass-production equipment. Mike and Nora watched a whole video about it, while Audrey and I just stared through the glass at the other end of the hanger. They had everything from pieces of an Apollo space arm, to airplanes that helped search for boats at Pearl Harbor.

There was also an ATC tower, with real-time radio and radar from the Dulles Airport. Totally worth the convention-style crowded elevator.

That's all for this post; I'll put up the Cabin Pressure themed pictures in a separate post for those who prefer to skip the fannish stuff.
kestrel337: (Default)
Mount Vernon.

We opted to skip the orientation movie. But there was an utterly GORGEOUS miniature. Which term is relative, the thing is huge, and the walls and roof are motorized to open and display the interior.

(Picture from

Then there's an optional movie, which we skipped. The tour was incredible. Gorgeous just doesn't do it justice.

The grounds. Audrey was keen to find some horses, which we did. I think by this time we're all worn out, so pictures are a bit thin on the ground. But we did get these carriages. Martin and Arthur particularly wanted a picture with the sheep.

I'll finish with a picture of the sort of clouds we've been seeing fairly regularly, some ubiquitous statue shots, and our Astronaut Ice Cream Sandwich.

Hotel Art

Jun. 15th, 2015 10:04 pm
kestrel337: (Default)
Hotels tend to specialize in rather bland art. Makes sense, really. Impersonal, soft colors, themes that are unlikely to offend anyone.

But this hotel room has a picture that is, frankly, weird and creepy. I get that it's supposed to be trees...but that's really not what it looks like.

It's a picture of dust bunnies from beyond the void. They come through tiny portals that open up under our furniture. Slowly, over the course of months and years and centuries, they accumulate and drift through our homes. Our brooms and bagless vacuum cleaners are actually their tools, releasing them into the open, where they gather and join together to form enormous floating clouds called smears. Seven smears forms a smutch. Smutches roam the landscape, generating long slender proboscises which descend to the ground and suck the very life-force out of their host planet. Then they open portals beneath some other species couches, and the process begins again.

This painting is not decorative art. It is a warning. Beware the Dust Bunnies of Death. Damp mop your hard surfaces. Bagged vacuum cleaners are an acceptable secondary line of defense.

kestrel337: (Default)
Putting these pics in a separate post, because I'm TOLD there are some people who don't care about fannish pursuits. Fair enough; you do you.

So, the first thing we found for Arthur was this:

And then there was an airplane called 'Douglas', which Martin points out is very nice, yes, but there's a whole THEATER there that's named after him.

Arthur and Martin both enjoyed the Commercial Aviation area.

It has been pointed out that none of us meet the criteria to be a stewardess, to which we all reply "SO WHAT?".

A fandom I didn't expect to find represented anywhere at the Air and Space Museum:

Poor soul will NEVER live down his willful ignorance of the solar system.

Out to the National Mall, and I wanted to try something I've seen done in the Sherlock fandom. It worked...well, it's not impressive when you look at these pictures, but given how hot and humid it was, and how tired everyone already was, I'm calling these angles and distances a compromise.

(Okay, so please notice the tree and the grey whatever-it-is box. We were THERE. The joyous cries of 'we found it' rivaled any geocaching run ever.)

I'm including this one because I'm silly like that. And because he's my absolute favorite from that movie.

The day was BRILLIANT.
kestrel337: (Default)
Air and Space Museum Day! Also, National Mall (some of it).

Lots of bucket list items today.

The Air and Space Museum was absolutely the most crowded thing we've done yet. But. So. Cool.

I couldn't resist, when Emma approached this item, leaning over and whispering in her ear, 'Hey, who turned off the lights?'.

The girls, having recently seen Star Trek: The Voyage Home, made many references to 'nuclear wessels'. I didn't have the heart to point out that these were nuclear missiles, not wessels.

More computing power in the phone that took the picture, than in the lander. Everyone knows that, Mom.

Who knew?

Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega. I was NOT crying. The guy handing out maps asked me what I thought happened to her. I'm not sure it matters, honestly. Because everyone loves a mystery, and the mystery lets her inspire more people than she might if we ever got an actual answer. Girls need heroes.

The atmosphere in this place was incredible. Intense. So much wonder. Really, really great.

Then we went out to visit the National Mall. Didn't get far, and even as much as we saw was probably pushing too much into one day. But none of us really wanted to try driving downtown on a workday, so it was now or never.

The day ended, as has every day so far, with a visit to the swimming pool. The rainbow was a bonus.

Next post (maybe even tonight): Fan type pictures from today.
kestrel337: (Default)
National Zoo Day!

Driving was every bit as bad as I'd expected, so I'm really very grateful that Mike had the wheel. Just trying to help navigate about killed me. It was like the longest, hardest, most fraught dungeon crawl you've ever played in your life. One boss fight after another. Mike maintains that it wasn't that bad...I think he's got selective amnesia. It was hell.

We (finally) got to the zoo entrance, and there were the signs: LOT FULL. Some attendants in orange vests turning away the car in front of us, and a bunch of orange cones. Boss Fight. But I had a magic item in my inventory: Prepaid Parking Panda Pass. Try saying that out loud; it's fun. I pulled out our P4, showed it to the guardians, and they shifted the orange cones to let us in.

Thank you, Parking Panda.

So. Onward. Nora was, predictably, over the moon. Although it was hot and humid (already 82 when I went grocery shopping at 8:30), we had a great time. And it wasn't too crowded, which I'd feared.

This one is a panda bear. That's not actually a bear. And I'm reasonably certain that the crate is actually a reproduction.

The elephant in the room under the bridge.

We went to the bird house, and that was neat. There was a free-flight room, smallish, with just a few birds in it. I was about to call it, start the trek to the reptile house, but the kids found the ramp that ran up to the overlook on the flight room. Which was interesting, but it exited out onto this enormous aviary. Where someone was doing some courting, with limited success.

I don't have pictures from the reptile discovery center. Nora was incandescent. Every enclosure held something she'd read about, seen a documentary about, always wanted to see. A few too many of a particular sort of reptile for Audrey, so she and Mike got a nice break on the bench by the exit. One of those amazing things was actually eating...something. Something BIG.

There were lots of other animals, including the long-awaited armadillos. I have NO IDEA why armadillos are such a big deal, but...there you are. The girls have now seen two armadillos. And I have learned that there is a porcupine that has a prehensile tile. It's called, somewhat predictably, the prehensile tailed porcupine.

Last stop of the day was on the carousel. Emma picked a black footed ferret, Audrey was on a gazelle. Nora rode an alligator. I think mine was a grasshopper; I went for size rather than charisma.

We'd seen about as much as we could handle, so it was time to head home. This battle wasn't quite as bad, although it did give us a few moments. But we got to see this gateway into chinatown. And a recruitment message that didn't quite match my image of how this particular organization would go about finding candidates.

Yellow Car Count 6/13: 43
Yellow Car Count Trip: um...I'll do the math later.

Time to do some laundry, and take the kids swimming.
kestrel337: (Default)
Ba-dum, ba-dum...

Yellow Car Count 6/12: 123
Yellow Care Count Trip: 209

We counted hawks yesterday, and got a total of 17. And our secondary counting item today was motorcycles, of which we counted 45 but I bet there were more.

Highlight of today's drive was MOUNTAINS. I don't have very many pictures of those, although I think Audrey probably got a bunch.

An interesting thing: There are these special things, we saw two of them, in the mountains. They are signed as 'runaway truck ramp'. And yes, that's exactly what they are. I wish I'd gotten a picture of the first one we saw. A lane, which ran off into a gravel driveway that sloped up at some ridiculously sharp angle. It had very definite wheel marks in it, which I hope were from the unlucky highway worker who had to grade the gravel.

So, without further ado, here are our pictures.

Selfie (or two) in every state: Ohio

Selfie in every state: West Virginia

Selfie in every state: Pennsylvania

Selfie in every state: Maryland

We also drove a bit through Virginia, but by that time there were people sleeping and people frazzled picture happened.

Two geocaches today, one in Ohio and one in Maryland. And Audrey climbed a tree in Ohio.

kestrel337: (Default)
To Normal

(We bypassed Normal, in case you can't quite make out the sign)

600 miles, three states.

Selfie in Every State: Minnesota

It rained through most of Wisconsin. Maybe that's why the construction delays weren't too bad?

Selfie in Every State: Wisconsin

The girls have been utterly marvelous. No quarrels, no real complaining. They printed out some scavenger hunt sheets and a licence plates list. Minnesota plates weren't to be counted until we were out of Minnesota, and we all agreed to waive Alaska and Hawaii. Two hours into the trip, and we've found Alaska. Awesome.

Selfie in Every State: Illinois

Made it to Indianapolis. About to take the kids swimming. A Selfie in Every State: Indiana

Yellow Car Count for 6/11: 86
Yellow Car Count for Trip: 86

Audrey, preparing to re-enact the ending of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The geocache in Illinois was FULL of ANTS, but we managed to sign it anyway.

That's all for tonight. Tomorrow: The Mountains, and DC.
kestrel337: (Default)
Technically, my big red van is named Natasha. But we call it the Fan Van.

I've already shown the heroclix collection on the dashboard, but I've not shown my stickers yet.

These are the stickers currently in place, plus the obligatory 'My kids are amazing' that all suburban mom vans have to display.

These are the ones I have yet to apply, plus our traveling companions. Arthur and Martin are from doodletime's storenvy. The lemons are my own shrinky-dinks; one for each member of the family.

And the notebook. Man, the notebook. This is our trip information. Maps, e-tickets, confirmations, post-card lists. There are a few more bits and pieces to go into it, but for the most part it's ready to roll.

Today is about keeping on top of the laundry and house, sorting through the change jar for tolls and laundromats (no pennies), and haranguing the kids about how much nicer it is coming home to a clean bedroom and fresh sheets. Oh, and finding an image of 'on your left' at the reflecting pool so I can take one of those really nifty pictures where you hold up the print out...if you're going to geek, geek hard.

So. There we are. Departure in three days. Or four, depending how you count today.


Jun. 1st, 2015 07:36 am
kestrel337: (Default)
The app for the National Zoo has very mixed reviews, so I think we'll skip it.

The app for the National Mall won't download onto my phone. Could be a memory issue, I suppose.

But the best app I've found for our trip is Parking Panda. We don't leave for 10 more days (I'm up and dressed so today no longer counts) and I've already booked our parking spaces in DC.

According to the video, you book and pay online, then get a QR code on your phone which scans at the parking space. We've printed out our codes, just to be sure. Then, when it's time to leave, scan the code again. Presumably this logs your 'once in once out', as well as making sure you haven't overstayed your bought and paid for welcome.

The other app that I hope will see some use is geocaching. Middle daughter would love to find a cache in every state, which would be great fun but perhaps a bit unlikely. Some we're just passing through, and as I no longer have a premium membership I can't do a saved 'caching along a route' search. There're a couple of virtual caches at Mount Vernon that we'll try to snag, and some good traditionals on Chincoteague. And when we stop at rest areas, I can certainly run a 'nearby caches' search. Some states allow them, some don't.

Wonder if there's a 'find nearby coffee shops' app.
kestrel337: (Default)
An important part of trip planning is making certain the vehicle is ready for the journey.

To that end, I have been assembling a collection of Fan Van Mascots.


The last addition was Vision, and now we have (I believe) the complete set. At least until (unless) Wizkids makes Agent Carter Heroclix. I'll post pics of our stickers on another entry.
kestrel337: (Default)
14 days

11 States:

West Virginia



8 Planned Activities:
National Mall
Air and Space Museum
Mount Vernon
National Zoo

Chincoteague Pony Cruise
Assateague Lighthouse Tour
NASA Wallops Visitor Center
Assateague Beach

5 Family Members

1 Van

I think we're going to need some snacks...
Page generated Oct. 22nd, 2017 12:37 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios