Monday, February 21, 2011

Building the Magnificent Cat Dancing Creations Vendor Booth! Part 6

     Several folks are following the growth of our Sherwood Forest Faire booth. This last weekend was the 2011 opening for the Faire. Here is where we are:
    As we were getting near the end of our light straw and clay wall construction we ran up against a county-wide, darn near state-wide, fire ban. Daily temps were getting colder and it had become necessary to heat our water over a fire to mix the clay. Each morning we found the soaked clay from the day before resting at a temp near 40 degrees F or colder. This was nearly impossible to mix, the best temp for mixing the clay and straw is at least 60 degrees F. A couple of buckets each of near boiling water added to each barrel of mud pretty much did the trick. However, no fire, no hot water and no mixing. Fortunately, most of our walls were high enough for Faire purposes, namely giving wind shelter, a place to display art, and concealing the back stage area. It was only necessary to add some of the form wood to one bay of the back wall for concealment purposes.

This pic is an interior shot of that bay. If you look closely, above the wall hanging you can see the form boards, below the hanging you can see the clay/straw wall. As time got short, we called a halt for the season on our construction work.
The underside of the metal roofing was concealed by burlap with lace panels at the skylights. The purpose for this is to give a more period look to the ceiling, and to comply with Faire requirements.

The back door was constructed and mounted, along with the front window shutters and doors. The hinges were made by Earthen Metals, one of the local blacksmiths for the Faire.

So, here is how the booth looked for opening day, 2011. Hark, yon patrons approach!

To be greeted by Milady Cat Dancing, Artist in Residence! We needed store counter space, and we needed to store our remaining straw bales out of the weather. Solution! We made the counter out of the straw bales, topped by wood and draped with cloth.

Intarsia and stained glass boxes against the back wall of the booth.

Intarsia on the south end wall. Notice the RainCrow-designed/built light fixture above the art.

Display of RainCrow made Sylph-Song Flutes against the back wall. Some have dragons. A mix of pentatonic and Spanish Gypsy tunings.

Wall hanging and intarsia inside the front wall. Along with Sir Silas of Bryan.

Our booth was fortunate to obtain a Charter Vendor banner. Last year, the Faire's first year,  we vended off our porch as shown in my previous posts. All in all we received almost as many questions and compliments on our booth construction as for our wonderful art!

Looking out at the Faire through a front window. The wind chimes are new this year. We are carrying them for friend Lynn Kirby at Splendor in the Glass.

A look from outside the same window. Stained glass, wind chimes, our custom logo, and a bench by local artisan Black Wolf are visible. You can just see the window shutters and the extents of the clay above the porch roof.

Opposite end of porch with remaining stained glass , shutters, and top portion of waterfall shown.

Waterfall and flower garden. The primroses are gorgeous!

Gina and her pet rooster Friar Tuck are loved by the children at the Faire. She commissioned a pet portrait from Cat Dancing last year. She was ecstatic at the result! See for yourself!

Sir Silas is modeling his new Captain's Coat from Two Spools at the Faire. Wake and Stacy do wonderful work!

 Sir William of RainCrow must needs have new attire of his own. A new custom-made cloak from Two Spools fits the bill, or the Bill.

Of course, Sir Michael got his own cloak as well. Two Spools once again provided. Michael is taking the afternoon off from working at the King's Swing attraction at the Faire.

It was a beautiful opening weekend for Sherwood Forest Faire. We have lots of weekends to go yet. Come see us! I'll also be posting more pics from the Faire soon!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Winter Stuff Revisited

     In response to my recent post about cold weather and related issues, Keith Howard at sent me a link to their blog about avoiding frozen pipes.
It's good advice, and the rest of the blog is well worth reading. Of course, when my pipes get frozen, it's more a case of being lazy than not knowing what to do. 
     In a mobile home, like ours, the number one weak point to freezing is the service line that must come out of the ground and enter the floor of the mobile home. You've got maybe three feet of exposed pipe that really must be insulated. Just because we typically only have a few days of freezing weather here, that doesn't mean the pipes are safe. The second great idea is to under pin the house, or close up the underside so wind can't blow under. That's important not just for the pipes, but it keeps the floor cooler in summer and warmer in winter and will cut down those utility bills. 
     Sometimes varmints, dogs, and repair processes can leave a portion of the insulation under the mobile home open, exposing the pipes and floor to cold air. Close that up any way you can. 
Mobile homes tend to be built using different methods and materials than conventional housing. That sometimes means that what is needed to make repairs is not the same standard stuff you would run into at the lumber yard. Doors, windows, plumbing fixtures, piping and fittings, even sizes of lumber used are usually "special" types or sizes.  You may wind up seeking a dedicated supply store for mobile homes.
     The insulation and closure material under the mobile home is usually a continuous sheet of insulation, covered by another continuous sheet of plastic or other material. Easy to cut a hole in and work on stuff, but complicated to re-seal, since there isn't really much but sheet material to attach to. It can be done, but it requires thought and lumber, usually. I wind up adding some sort of framing around a hole, just to attach new insulation, etc. to. 
     Of course your mobile home may have other exposed pipes. We are attached to a rainwater collection system. There is a pressure pump and tank involved that can freeze also. Those are enclosed, insulated, and heated in winter. 
     Don't be lazy. (That was me telling myself!) A few extra minutes of preparing things in nice weather is a lot better than crawling around in the snow thawing pipes, repairing plumbing, and controlling damage from leaks. Tell yourself that, I'll tell myself the same.
     That always makes me think of the old story about the guy with the leaky roof. He never fixed it when the sun was shining because it wasn't leaking then!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Movie Binge!

Ever since the blizzard started I've been indulging in a movie binge! 
Okay, I use the term blizzard loosely, very. We had a little snow that barely lasted as long as one movie, and it got really cold (for here) and that was a couple of days. However, I got snared by Red Box. When my partner, Cat Dancing, is out of town, I try and catch up on action movies I enjoy but she doesn't care for. 
Here's the lineup:
"Red" I really enjoyed it.
"The American" A bit slow, realistic, ho hum.
"Case 39" Seriously creepy. Nice twist. 
"Inception" Pretty good. Mind bender. Perhaps moved a little too fast to catch up.
"Resident Evil: Afterlife" Apparently Alice is Timex AND the Energizer Bunny. I enjoy the series. This one fit right in. I had trouble watching the first one, but I got hooked.
"Salt" I enjoyed it. Don't think she can kick Bourne's ass, but almost.

I also found a few movies at the Elgin Public Library. Not an extensive selection, but worth a look. I got.
"Solaris" A re-watch. Another mind bender, a bit slow. 
"Ghost Rider" Another re-watch. Saw it in theaters. I enjoy all the Marvel characters. Fun ride.
"2012" Another fun ride. I enjoyed it. Serious flaws in credibility, but that aside, I still had a few edge-of-my seat moments.

I also recently re-watched the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I consider it very good. Someday I'll get the expanded version. I lost count of how many times I read the original books, or have seen the movies, for that matter. I also watched "Dune" again. The version with William Hurt. Enjoyable. Makes me want to re-read the books.

The most recent film we've seen in the theater is "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Part One." Looking forward to part two. Now that we're finishing the series, we hear J.K. Rowling may be considering more books. Be interesting to see how that works, considering the end of the book. Of course the movie studios usually deal with that handily by ignoring such things. I'm sure we all can come up with many examples.

And now, Red Box tells me I have earned a couple of free rentals. Oh my! Back to the candy store!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter Stuff

    Here it is the one week of winter we have each year in Central Texas, usually falling early to mid February. It was actually 17.5 degrees F this morning and the water pipes are frozen in our house.  The utility companies are doing rolling blackouts, I'm told, all around to conserve power, although we haven't had one so far. I'm keeping myself supplied with hot drinks and staying inside to write. Biscuits coming from the oven soon, that will help.
    My chronically cold feet don't have much relief, though. I have a nice little ceramic space heater under my desk I inherited from my mother, but my step-son is still asleep, and he has one on in his room. Two of them running tends to flip the breaker. Ahh, well.
    I grew up living over a gas station. The house was comfortable, but pretty much uninsulated. We had a propane space heater in each room and the wood floors were cold, the downstairs mostly unheated. We coped every winter with freezing pipes. For the most part, we avoided them. At the first hint of cold weather we filled buckets and the bathtub with water for use in flushing toilets, etc. Then we turned off the water and drained pipes. Our water came from a well, stored in an overhead stone water tank. Since the well and tank were a good distance from the house, and the second story of the house was about level with the tank, we relied on a pressure pump to give us water pressure upstairs. There were plenty of places for the pipes to freeze. Since the it was all galvanized steel pipes then, a broken pipe was an even bigger deal then.
    It's not so complicated now to replace a section of plastic pipe, on the other hand, plastic pipe is a bit trickier to thaw manually. It's a trade off, I guess.
    It's also not difficult to flush a toilet with a bucket of water. One could go to the effort of refilling the back of the tank, but really all you have to do is pour water into the bowl. Once enough is there, flushing happens.
   Luckily, we don't usually stay frozen long enough for cold baths to be a necessity. We rarely go longer than a couple of days with freezing temps. This being Texas, it all can change in no time. We had temperatures in the 70's (F) just two days ago. Motorcycle riding was fine with no coat other than a light windbreaker.
   Of course, Texas in February, those sorts of temps can easily be followed by a "blue norther". My grandfather, W.K. Seward, used to tell of some severe ones. When young he walked to school a mile or so away to Union Hall. One afternoon walking home it was fairly warm, but the sky was darkening in the north. His father was driving a wagon home and picked him up at the gate, perhaps a couple of hundred yards from home. The norther hit before they got there and the temperature dropped to freezing before the got into the house. Of course, this was in the days of wood stoves and fireplaces, by necessity. I've seen a few blue northers during my life time too. That's when the old timers start talking about being as cold as Amarillo, where there's "nothing between there and the North Pole but a picket fence!" 
     Like I said, it's not such an ordeal, if you don't make it one. We use bottled water for drinking, so we have plenty available for hot drinks. We have power, of course, it's easy to over use it and send the electric meter spinning into orbit! We have a kerosene heater from the shop, if we need it. Although, if the power goes, an unheated water bed is NOT a good thing! Camping in the living room is doable. 
     I'm not worried. It is a good time to consider giving any extra blankets or coats to someone who needs them, homeless shelters, food pantries. Bring outdoor pets in, cover plants, etc. 
     Last but hardly least, snuggle with a friend!
     Stay warm!