Water slide!!!


Last summer, just before Sh'Bang at the quarry, a few of us armed with nothing more than blackberry loppers, a shovel, a few scraps of carpet, a 50 ft. piece of visqueen, and an indomitable spirit set out to make a water slide. While the result gave us all a rush*, it was hardly safe for the public (or fit to last through a winter for that matter), so it was filed away under the Once Upon a Quarry list. Since then, we've been on a the lookout for something a little more sturdy to replace it. As so often happens, when you put the message out into the universe, the universe responds.

As with so many stories, it starts with a motivated young boy. Miles* learned that a junk store in Mt. Vernon came into possession of a real water slide via some auction or another. It wasn't 24 hours later that Stefan and I were on the scene to scope it out. A little wheeling and dealing and, boom!, done deal.

Now to the tricky part. Needless to say, none of us had experience installing a commercial water slide. And although it was supposed to be a bolt-together-and-go type operation, it proved slightly more difficult. But after a dozen or more volunteer man hours*, we had a slide that we guessed wouldn't slide off the hill into the water and, maybe more importantly, wouldn't tear your suit off as you careened over one of the seams*.

Only thing left to do: test it. SUCCESS! And, knock on wood, the success continues. I personally witnessed many gleeful sliders at Sh'bang without injury*.

Here's to many years of safe, fun sliding!!
Monday September 17 2012File under: quarry

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My ShBang 2012 Anecdote

Sh'Bang 2012, if you ask any of the attendees, was a huge success. The video and picture* evidence only serves to reinforce. I don't have any pictures of my own, however, since I was busy racing my soapbox derby car, giving tours of the property (being sure to highlight my cabin!), and encouraging people to go down the new water slide*. But I do have what I consider a wonderful anecdote from the festival which is my contribution to the collective recorded memory.

This year, like the 4 previous years, I built a soapbox derby car (using the same pallet, actually, that the previous 4 years' cars have been built on). As you may remember from years past, my car building skillz aren't so great, so I brought in a little help on the final touches*. Lebn and I put together a pretty dang good car such that I made it down the course 3 times, including one time over the jump! (I did, however post the slowest time which I attribute to my caution rather than the car's ability. (Slowest Time did, however, win me a nice Mallard gift certificate!))

Well, whether it was from taking the jump* or from pushing the limits of my little pallet car, the back wheel was bend pretty good so I decided to opt out of the head-to-head and death match races. Lebn, however, looked like he was itching for a trip down the course. I told him if he wanted to fix the wheel, he was welcome to give it a go. Off he went to find some tools.

The head-to-head racers zipped by in pairs much to the delight of the crowd. Keeping count in my head, I realized that there was only one pair left to come down the hill, so it must be Lebn on the pallet car. I got in a good viewing position and waited. Soon, a car rounded the bend and came zipping by. It's a welded car without a nail or wooden board in sight. But no Lebn. He must have bailed or wrecked earlier up the course, I concluded, and started to walk away. But as soon as I did, around the corner he comes.

But wait, the car looks a little funny. Is it missing a wheel?!? Sure enough, the once tricycle has lost one of its back wheels but Lebn is still coaxing it along by heavily leaning to one side to keep it from dragging to a stop. What determination, what cleverness, what ingenuity! The crowd starts to cheer.

As is so often the case, determination, cleverness, and ingenuity is sometimes packaged with, well, let's call it overambition. The cheering of the crowd grows as it becomes evident that this cleverly-driven hobbled car is going to take the jump. Fortunately for posterity, photographer Peter James was there to capture the moment. Unfortunately for Lebn, tri-cum-bicycles don't really carry speed like their unhobbled relatives. He doesn't quite clear the mud pit and tumbles to the ground.

Not content to let it rest, he hops back on the doubly damaged machine and limps it across the line. Only later does the full damage report come in: a broken collar bone for the fearless rider. Alas. But, even 3 days later he reports that despite it all, he's "still smiling".

Thanks Sh'Bangers for a great weekend and great stories! The Quarry wouldn't be the same without ya'll.
Wednesday September 12 2012File under: quarry

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Completely Stoned


Last week, I placed the last stone in my cabin (aside from a few pebbles to fill the cracks when grouting). Things are coming along and it looks great (if I do say so myself)!. No more scouring the Quarry for suitable rocks, hauling them down the trail, and pounding on them to get them to be just the right fit. And after a couple more grouting sessions, I'll be able to chuck the mortar mixing equipment too. After more than 2 years, it will be nice to reach a phase complete.

But I'm on a mission to get this cabin* finished. It wasn't but a day after putting in the last stone that I started in on the sills* and the central post*. I hope to get a few of the walls framed in this week and the roof rafters on by Soap Box Derby (a.k.a. Sh'Bang) time*. The plan is to have a roof suitable for keeping most of the rain off up by the time rains come.

It's kind of a funny thing, how excited I am about this pile of rocks. I'm constantly thinking about it (where can I get some cheap but nice windows?, I better find some gutters sooner rather than later, what am I going to do about the floor?). If you are anywhere near the area, stop by and I'll give you a tour. Until then, here's another picture or two.
Sunday September 2 2012File under: quarry

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FC 169 - Everyone Love Milkshakes...Until Now

Two and a half months!?! That's how longs it's been since the last Friday Comic. I assuming most of ya'll had given up hope of ever seeing one of those again (either given up hope or rejoiced!) Well, don't get excited quite yet. At least wait until you've seen the comic. It is a little, well, off color, in the same vein as the ever popular Schultzian's comic from way back.

Well, while I don't foresee weekly comic posts coming back any time soon, hopefully, as the epic Summer '12 winds down, I'll find more time to post which might or might not include more comics. Until then, maybe go have a look at the comic archives! You never know which of your favorites you've forgotten about. Or you could even buy a book(!), just in time for those ridiculously early office holiday parties.

(If you're having a hard time getting the comic, see if this helps: Martin is the one on the right. And I tried to do a time shifting/Memento thing in giving the punch line first followed by the set up. Maybe it didn't work as well as I hoped.*)
Thursday August 30 2012File under: comic

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Craft Time at the Quarry

There's something about being at the Quarry that just makes me want to build stuff. First it was the Dream Comes True Pavilion, then it was my cabin (which is coming along very nicely. Expect a post soon), and now it is necessary this and thats. Seen here is a coat hanger Della and I made for our clown pod. Super fun! Also for the clown pod, I made this snazzy ladder to get up to the lofted bed. I split a log of alder and notched in some steps. I suppose it could have been a little bit taller, but it does its job.

The other projects I've been working on directly relate to the cabin. I found a great cherry log for a center post. We stripped off the bark and are letting it dry out a bit. It all feels very woodsy. Then I built a frame for these window blocks, which will go on the north wall of the cabin.

It turns out while I might not be the best at it, I really enjoy working with my hands and the quarry is the perfect place to do it. Yeehaw!
Sunday August 26 2012File under: quarry

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The Big Juggle Finale

On the last two Chautauqua tours, we've had a lot of jugglers. From that stemmed the idea of getting a huge blowout piece with as many jugglers on stage as possible to finish the show. Well, it was a hit and has been in just about every show since, whether on tour at a small community show or big public show, or at the various benefits we have throughout the year.

The pattern is simple. As many jugglers as we have, we pair off in twos. It is 5 throws on a 4 count with your partner, finishing with a self double and tada. Center stage is a two high (or a couple two highs) that leads things. There's also a fun hectic buzzing/getting to position part. Basically, it is super fun.

This weekend Chautauqua did a show/workshop/parade combo at the Stillaguamish River Festival and, sure enough, the big juggle finished the show. This time around, we only had 16 or so jugglers on stage, as opposed to the 22+ during tour, but it was still a great spectacle. It is great hearing the "oh my"s from the crowd as we raise our clubs and start.

The group juggle, which I seem to be the default for heading up, is a ton of fun and totally embodies the Chautauqua fun-loving spirit. Maybe it's this 45 seconds of stage time that is helping me get over my not-a-performer hang-ups so that I can fully participate in all the glory that is the circus!
Tuesday August 14 2012File under: juggling, circus

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Happy Little Circus

I may have mentioned a time or two that I'm not really a performer when it comes to circus*. I do, however, make an occasional appearance on stage when the situation is right. This past weekend at the Happy Little Farm party in Conway, it was perfect.

A "party" doesn't really describe it, because it is much more: with bands, circus, pot luck, rock paper scissors, camping, etc. But it isn't quite a festival: not advertised, no tickets, no wristbands, mostly friends and friends of friends. It is really the perfect mix. So the last two times they've asked me to put together a show, I've been stoked to do so. The performers that I rope* in seem to enjoy themselves too. That I would get on stage in a show that I produced* in a fun, circus-loving, low pressure atmosphere only makes sense.

We had juggling, music, hat tricks, mime, fire, balance, and more. Della and I did a rope act that is shaping up to be pretty dang neat. Keep your eyes peeled for it at August's Vaudevillingham.

In conclusion, circus is fun, and the Happy Little Farm party is one I hope to keep circusing at for years to come.
Tuesday August 7 2012File under: circus

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Sleeping Around 2011-2012

Overall Stats
Nights At Home101 (27.5%)
Nights Housesitting112 (31%)
Nights of Travel153 (42%)
One of the things I most look forward to on this blog is the collating of my year of sleeping around. It, better than possibly anything else, encapsulates what my year was like. And, since it is so nice and quantifiable, it serves as a great comparison to previous years. Did my housesitting business go up or down?* Did I travel more or less than last year?* The fun I have with looking through these numbers is really quite ridiculous.

Today represents the end of the fourth year of data, 1461 days of logging where I slept. I've presented this year's data in various ways here, some specifically for consistency with previous years for comparison. To see a breakdown, check out the calendar

What, in my eyes, is notable? Travel is WAY down, esp. international travel which is down from an average of 65 nights to just 4. Nights at home is higher than normal, partly due to [happily] playing live-in nurse for Ma when she got a new hip. Nights in a car is up, which is what happens when one's girlfriend lives* [by choice] in a car.

I very much like the transient nature of my life, at least for the time being. And I like numbers and data. So I trust this über-nerdy habit of tracking and analyzing will go continue for years to come, possibly to the point of it being the only post per year on the ever waning* Blog du Wren.

Previous years' posts can be found here: 2008-2009, 2009-2010, and 2010-2011.

Travel Breakdown
In-state91 (59%)
Domestic58 (38%)
    # of states (other than WA)    5
International4 (2.6%)
    # of countries (other than US)    1
Additional Stats
Nights in a Car37
Nights in a Tent39
Nights in a Boat0
Nights in a Hotel9
Longest stretch at home7

Wednesday August 1 2012File under: stats, travel

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Food Preservation

The Northwest provides a bounty of wonderful food during the summer and fall. Come winter, I always say to myself, "Dang! I wish I would have put up some of those lovely berries or whatever.*" Well, with a little help and encouragement, this year, I'm doing it!

First up, cherries! Cherries, when in season, are ridiculously cheap and awesomely delicious. I'm currently babysitting Della's food dehydrator so I figured I'd give drying cherries a try. Success! It is amazing how small the amount of dried cherries one gets from a giant bag of fresh cherries. But dang they are good.

Up second, blueberry jam! This was an all out effort by Della and myself. We picked the berries, took a lesson from Ma in canning*, and ended up with a bunch of awesome jam! It's good too.

What's next? Maybe blackberry jam? Hopefully some dried plums. Perhaps some frozen sweet corn. Here's to the wonderful northwest bounty!
Monday July 30 2012File under: food

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Chautauqua 2012 in Pictures


Being so busy and having so much fun is kind of a mixed blessing. It is wonderful in the moment, but afterwards, I find myself wishing I had taken more pictures and perhaps submitted a blog post or two more. Such was the case with Chautauqua tour 2012. I did wrangle a few photos and post them here for your viewing pleasure (and my archival pleasure too!) Be sure to check out the captions for context



Thursday July 26 2012File under: circus, pics

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