Saturday, May 31, 2014

2014 Hug the Earth Festival with the The Banana Slug String Band and the Students of Miami County, Ohio

This is the sixteenth year that I have helped in some way with the Hug the Earth Festival.  It has grown from a one day event with about seven hundred students participating to a four day event with over three thousand students participating.  In addition, there is now a Saturday Festival open to the public.

Because Stillwater Prairie Reserve was waterlogged from the rains of the previous week, the students' festivals were held at the Miami County Fairgrounds.

There were limp antennae on the Banana Slug mascot who met the children as they began their day on Tuesday but by Thursday his antennae were stiff and perky.  He must have found some starch somewhere.

The band members from Santa Cruz, California, "Solar" Steve Van Zandt,

 "Marine" Mark Nolan,

 Doug "Dirt" Greenfield,

 and "Airy" Larry Graff

have been together  for nearly thirty years.  They entertain children and adults with songs about our wonderful earth and encourage everyone to care for it.  For quite a few years "Gaea" Gary has come with them to play drums.  I don't have a recent photo of him.

During the school year the students learn a special earth song, make costumes related to the song and come out to a Miami County Park for a day of exploring and learning more about their special earth song.  The festival is the culminating  event. This year, some of the students were superheros with superhero capes they decorated themselves.

Here is a superhero of Ohio's prairies.

Here is another Habitat Superhero.  Looks like the habitat is a river.  Beside him is the bucket with the rocks he dug out of the sand and gravel pile deposited in one of the Miami County Fair grounds open sided buildings.  All of the rocks in the pile are mined in Ohio.

The older students panned for their rocks.  The rocks they found were from many areas of the world.

In the trough are the pans the the students will use.  Standing around it, getting last minute instructions are the staff who will help them if they need it.  Notice that most of the staff are wearing slug antennae.

Here the students are comparing the rocks they found with samples enclosed in this box.

The Columbus, Ohio Zoo brought unusual animals like this two-toed sloth and talked to the younger students about the animals'  habits.

The older children were treated to a High Ropes Adventure which included a fast ride down a zipline.  There was also a climbing tower.  These were set up behind the stadium.  I took this before the event was completely set up.

On Saturday, tree climbing using ropes was also set up at Stillwater Reserve.

Rain, Sun, Sleet or Snow, the Hug the Earth Festival goes on and brings smiles to hundreds of people.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

5.2 Inches of Rain in Less Than Two Hours on May 21!

This is how our backyard looked after about two hours of rainstorms tore through our area.  Along with the rain and wind came pea-size hail for about a half hour.

Our sideyard

Our ditch, our road, the neighbors' ditches on our side and across the street.

May 21 was Wednesday.  Saturday, the yard, except for the ditch was dry so I mowed.  Today the "river" on the basement floor is beginning to dry up.  The three basement sump pumps are running less frequently.

The drain that runs under the driveway still has a little water running into it.  That is a big improvement from Wednesday evening when the drain was under water.  The green circle encloses the water draining onto the cement.  I took this photo a half hour ago when the late afternoon shadows hid much of the water.

Never in all the years we have lived in this house has our yard had standing water in it.

Our town fared worse than we did.  The library is closed until the basement is cleaned out.  The sewer system backed up and spread several inches of yucky mess on the floor.  There is a six foot deep sinkhole on one street.

Even the interstates were affected.  Sections of I-75 and I-70  were closed for hours.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Troy Civic Theatre's Presentation of The Butler Did It

Earlier this month, Tom and I went to The Troy Civic Theatre to see The Butler Did It by Walter and Peter Marks.  One viewer called it "an enjoyable bit of fluff".  She was right but sometimes that is exactly what we want when life gets harried.

All six of the actors are in this photo behind the railing in the lobby.  Jessica Suba, wearing the black gown,  played the diva, Natalie.  She was outstanding in her role as the actress determined to outshine everyone else.  In the play within the play, she is Angela Butler, second wife of Raymond Butler.

Tina Hayes who has dark hair made a lovely blond Victoria Butler in the play within the play.  She is the daughter of Raymond Butler and despises Angela Butler, her stepmother.  Caleb Magill, facing the other actors, is Raymond Butler, caught between his daughter and his new wife.  The actor in the white shirt and suspenders, Scott Atkinson, is the butler for the Butlers.  Second  from the left, Steve Dietrich, is Anthony J. Lefcourt who is writing the play, The Butler Did It, within the play, The Butler Did It. During the play he points out that  all of the actors are "Butlers".  Are you confused yet?

The actors are confused, too because Anthony J. Lefcourt, the writer, and also the director and producer, has not written the final scene so nobody know who will be murdered and who will be the murderer.  Steve Dietrich did an excellent job portraying this obsessed man.

There is a murder and someone does die.  Just what is really happening?  Strange as it may seem, the audience found a lot to laugh about.

Will Chuck Fox who plays Detective Mumford solve the mystery?  Will you solve the mystery?

Is this play a thriller? a farce? a comedy? a study of human personalities?

Terressa Knoch was the director.  She did an excellent job of creating a cohesive whole from what could have been an incomprehensible jumble.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Happy Birthday, Stephen

I will add the picture Grandpa took at your mini birthday party when he puts it into the computer.  Remember when I took this one last year when we had the party for Ted?

This year my birthday blogs are about games you grandchildren play with me.  I thought this one would be a a good one for us to share with friends.

Here is the box cover.  Below it are the rails.

Here is the whole setup.

Here is a close up of the engines we use to mark our places and two sections of railroad laid on the board.

Here are the cards with names of cities on them.

And here are the first five cities you are going to build railroads to.  Click on the picture to make it bigger so you can read the names better.

I love you.

From Grandma


Here are two photos Grandpa took.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Drama Workshop Presents Suite Surrender

If having an evening of laughter sounds good to you, look for a production of Suite Surrender.  The Drama Workshop at the Glenmore Playhouse in Cheviot, Ohio will presenting the play one more weekend, May 16, 17, and 18.   You can see by the set that the play involves a lot of running in and out of various doors.

Michael McKeever's play, Suite Surrender, does a good job of capturing the spirit of the farces that entertained the friends, relatives, and acquaintances of the GIs of World War II.  There is a lot of nonsense, but behind all of it, there is a sense of never forgetting about those fighting the war overseas.  In fact, the play's premise is that two big stars who hate one another are performing to generate money for the war effort.

Those big stars, Athena Sinclair (Stephanie Adams) and Claudia McFadden (Lynn Minges) have their larger individually framed photos to the left and the right of the photos of the rest of the cast and crew.

Stefanie Adams as Athena Sinclair

Lynn Minges as Claudia McFadden)

Life is never simple.  Poor Bernard (Dennis Murphy) the manager of the Palm Beach Royale Hotel, not only has two big stars to keep happy, but also Mrs. Osgood (Gretchen Gantner), who wants to see that a group of sailors on leave have the time of their lives.  Like Athena Sinclair and Lynn Minges, Mrs. Osgood is accustomed to having her way.

Unlike many plays in which the first act moves a bit slowly because the groundwork is being laid for the second act, this first act moves quickly and keeps the audience involved.  I was surprised when the lights came on for intermission.

Among the  refreshments were  some  suggested by Evie, who played Mr. Boodles, Claudia McFadden's dog.

There were Mr. Boodles cupcakes...

And kibble. (There were also sugar cookie dog bones.)

The second act moved as fast as the first and there were as many laughs as in the first act.  It is hard to pick  a favorite line.  I talked to my son yesterday.  He said that during one performance the audience's laughter actually stopped the show for a brief moment.  "But", he said, "the show must go on and it did."

The entire cast meshed well.  The cast not already mentioned includes Chuck Beatty as Pippet, Julia Hedges as Murphy, Dan Maloney as Francis, Robin Rubeo as Dora Del Rio, and Joe Wagner as Otis.

I didn't stay long after the show but I did stay long enough to meet Evie being comfortably held above all the dangerous feet by Carol Stone Smith.  Evie is clearly a diva.

Gretchen Gantner, Mrs. Osgood, changed quickly so we chatted a few minutes, also.

The theater now has very comfortable seats, seats that the University of Dayton no longer needed because they put new ones in Boll Theater.  The Drama Workshop members spent lots of hour getting them ready for this production.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Lilian Nichols , Making a Kaleidescope Cane in Polymer Clay

Before we began our session, Lilian showed us some examples of what she has made with Kaleidoscope canes.

Below is the Kaleidoscope cane I made about  year ago.

I used some of it to cover a baby food jar.

This is the cane I made in our April class.  I haven't used it in a project yet.

Now that I have had time to think about this cane, I understand what Lilian was telling us.  I plan to make another Kaleidoscope cane before I forget what I have learned.

Number 1.  She always tells us to process our clay well before we begin making a project.  That means rolling it, warming it in our hands, putting it through the pasta maker, using the thickest setting, then progressively thinner settings.  All this manipulation activates the clay molecules so they will bond together well when the project is baked.  

Number 2.  For this project, she suggested using making bull's eye canes after creating a sheet of clay blending  from one color to another using the Skinner Blend technique.  The bull's eyes technique, (whether rolled so the light area is in the center or whether the brilliantly-colored area is in the center) makes the individual canes noticeable and helps to create the design.

Number 3.  She emphasized over and over the importance of using canes of varying thicknesses in the basic building shape, a three dimensional triangle.

Number 4.  Stretching the cane carefully is very important.  If not done correctly, the pattern will be distorted from one end to the other.  Stretching involves starting by squeezing gently in the middle of the cane, stretching from the center toward either end, then squeezing in the middle again and stretching each end again.  I hope you find someone who can demonstrate this or that you can find a Youtube video that shows the technique.

Here are some examples from other members of the class.  First, examples of assembled canes which will become the triangle building block...

                                          Megan's stack in progress

                                          Karen's stack in progress

Making the triangle....

                                           Sally's triangle

Stretching the triangle and forming the sharp corners...

                                          Sally stretching her triangle...

Here is Lilian's example of the sliced triangle and how to assemble it.  Assembling can be tricky.  It is very easy to turn one triangle differently from the others.  The narrow lines are because Lilian used a different basic technique for creating the cane from the one we were concentrating on.

Here is another of Lilian's samples.  In this one the assembly method of the triangles is easily visible.

We have two Karen's in the class.  This is one Karen's completed cane.

This is the other Karen's completed cane.  You can see the straight lines on the long cane which show that the cane has been stretched carefully without twisting the pattern.  You can also see the triangle that was the basic building block of the assembly.

Here is a close view of the completed cane.

Dave's completed cane...

Lynda's completed cane...

Megan's completed cane...