October 2008 Archives

Pumpkins '08

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Another year, another batch of those short-lived art forms that are carved pumpkins. This year, much to my delight, the kids did theirs almost entirely on their own. We also tried something new that worked pretty well--Saral Transfer paper. This stuff goes right on the pumpkin, then the design gets put on top of that and you trace the design. When the tracing is done, you peel the whole thing off and have a nice clear copy of your design right on the pumpkin. This worked much better than the hole-punch-through-paper method because 1, the paper would get soggy and messed up half-way through the carving, and 2, there was no real way to determine what needed to be scraped, and what was supposed to be cut without checking the pattern anyway. So, this new way takes some time, but worked pretty well.

The kids picked their patterns and have finished theirs already, so I'll post pictures. Mine will be done tomorrow, and I'll post then--If the complexity of the one I chose doesn't kill me...

Katie chose the great Ang from a show they love called "Avatar." Here's the original Ang:

and her version--and remember, at 8 years old, this is all her doing:

Ellen, ever the activist, did what we hope to be our next president, Barak Obama:

Very nice job by both of them, showing tremendous patience with seriously advanced pumpkin carving.

So, updating now with my pumpkin, I chose a pretty ambitious project and after 2 hours tracing and a full 6 hours carving, I'm only somewhat happy with it. I think I just didn't quite scrape deeply enough where it's scraped, or maybe the pumpkin is just too thick. I'm hoping it will pop a bit more when it has a chance to dry and therefore thin, but it's not bad. I hope you at least recognize Van Gogh's Starry Night.

That time in our lives

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Friday night, my long-time friend David Stern emailed me that his father, Jack, had passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer's. I hadn't seen him in ages, but he was a fun guy when I was 14 and he was making goofy jokes about salt air.

A few months ago, my good friend Linda's mom also passed away (unfortunately, also of Alzheimer's).

A few years ago, my friend Mitch lost his mom, one of the sweetest ladies I've ever met (she literally baked us a cake when she knew we were coming over one day, many years ago.)

This has gotten me thinking, of course, that it's starting to be the time when my friend's parents are getting to the age where we will start losing them. Fortunately, my folks are comparatively young (and Kim's are kids, by comparison), and they're all healthy, but I have a feeling that over the next 5 years, this is going to become commonplace. Getting old sucks, but I guess it's better than the alternative.


What comes around, goes around, so if you'd like to drop some cash into the hands of the Alzheimer's foundation click the icon below:

This evening found me in Baltimore with a friend getting to see a live performance by David Sedaris, one of the funniest writers I know. I was afraid that seeing him would be one of those exercises where the author just reads the stuff everyone knows, trying to promote his new book (it IS a book tour, after all), and very little of it would be fresh. However, I was very happily mistaken and had heard nothing previously of the material that he read tonight.

One of the highlights was an excerpt from a story where he is talking how he and his long-time companion Hugh split the household tasks:

"Hugh will plaster up a wall that needs fixing, and I will make armor for dead, dried up bees out of tin foil."

Another was where he discussed the present election, saying that those who are undecided reminded him of airline meal choices:

'I don't know that it was always this way, but, for as long as I can remember, just as we move into the final weeks of the Presidential campaign the focus shifts to the undecided voters. "Who are they?" the news anchors ask. "And how might they determine the outcome of this election?"

Then you'll see this man or woman -- someone, I always think, who looks very happy to be on TV. "Well, Charlie," they say, "I've gone back and forth on the issues and whatnot, but I just can't seem to make up my mind!" Some insist that there's very little difference between candidate A and candidate B. Others claim that they're with A on defense and health care but are leaning toward B when it comes to the economy.

I look at these people and can't quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. "Can I interest you in the chicken?" she asks. "Or would you prefer the platter of shit with broken glass in it?"

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.'

The readings were great, and afterwards we waited on line for about an hour to get a few books signed. The line wasn't really that long, but when we got up to the front it became obvious why the line moved so slowly--Sedaris takes his time talking to each person, asking odd questions (he asked me casually "so, what's the last animal you killed with your bare hands?" to which I replied, "well, there was this kodiak bear in the living room the other day I had to dispatch..." That earned me a laugh.)

He also takes his time writing in people's books. Mine says "To Paul, Diabetes is for lovers", which, really, does say it all, doesn't it?

I asked him for some advice at this point on the whole bee-armor thing, saying that when I make my bee armies, and have them fight with the wasp armies, the legs get brittle and tend to fall off. He sagely suggested that I just accept this as part of the battle and instead of worrying about it, I use that as the measuring stick to determine the winner.

See? Helpful, as well as insightful and funny. What more could one ask for?

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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