Category Archives: Holiday

Most Lame Halloween Ever

It’s even more depressing to talk about it.

We didn’t even have one trick or treater come to the door.

And I hurt from the knuckles up from my three-hour visit to the dentist to get prepped for a crown.

So the thought of “more candy for me” doesn’t even sound good.

I tried to “friend” my dentist on Facebook a couple of years ago. She was like “hell, no.”

Because I am the worst patient ever. I woke up this morning (All Saints Day, la la!) with crumbles of that rubbery material they use to make impressions of your teeth, two trays of which I barfed up onto the reclining chair of doom, stuck in my hair. Ew.

But here are some pics that capture the spirit of the holiday, at best…

nhd jennyskip
neighborhood hi-jinks
ghouls jennyskip
Who are the people in your neighborhood? Ghouls.
Sheenah jennyskip
Our Sheenah and the new 99 cent Publix shopping bags
space jennyskip
in your space decorations
scary cat jennyskip
open front door, see butt of 12-ft tall scary cat

Thanks to Danielle for the last two pics of their decorations, they were so funny I had to share them. The skull, with its rotating eyeballs, is maniacal!

Bats, Bats and More Bats! The Halloween Type!

by Skip…

Inspired by David Picciuto’s Rockler-sponsored video on making puzzles using a laser, we decided to download his puzzle template, fire up the Full Spectrum laser and make a puzzle. In the past couple of years, we have produced holiday-themed puzzles using the laser (2016 Ghoul,  2015 Christmas Tree, Thanksgiving 2016, Halloween 2015  ).  So with Halloween approaching, it was time to put out another puzzle.

Bat puzzle

 

I searched the internet and found a Halloween image with some bats, and sized it to fit in a 10 inch by 7 inch space. Then, using the laser in raster mode I burned a light image of the subject on a piece of 1/8 inch thick Baltic plywood.  I then loaded up the puzzle template, sized it to fill the 7 inch by 10 inch space, and in vector mode with 100% power and 60% speed, cut out the puzzle. Oh, before laser cutting, I covered the raster image with painters’ tape to reduce burn residue from collecting directly on the wood surface.  I peeled the tape off after the puzzle was cut.

So why did I pick bats this year?  I like bats. They are high tech, insect-eating machines.  If you get up close and personal, they are really kind of cute.  We have several bat houses on our UF campus and it is really fun to watch them come out at dusk to do their thing…. eat insects!

In a September 2016 blog post by Christina Wang, Spooky Symbolism: The History and Meaning Behind Iconic Halloween Images, Christina writes

“Bats have long been associated with mystery, evil, death, and the supernatural. They’re only active at night, plus they live in caves (which evokes the underworld). Vampires are also often said to transform into bats, a connection popularized by Stoker’s novel and the many Dracula films.  One theory for the link between bats and Halloween has to do with the festival of Samhain. When the Celts celebrated the end of the harvest on October 31, they would light bonfires to keep evil spirits at bay. This practice would attract insects and, in turn, bats.

For some great Bat Facts (and to see baby bats in blankets) go to Brandon Keim’s Wired article, October 31, 2012 entitled: Tricks and Treats: 12 Amazing Things About Bats.”

Back to the puzzle: after removing all the tape and cleaning up the parts, I turned the puzzle pieces over to my wife for PLPPP (POST LASER PUZZLE PIECE PROCESSING).  I thought the image I laser-printed on the puzzle would make it easy to put the puzzle back together before painting…NO! It took my wife a couple of hours [days, actually…J]  to reconstruct the puzzle. The image was too light and the puzzle pieces are so uniform that it made it really difficult to put the puzzle together.

Once it was together, I sandwiched it between two boards and flipped it over. I covered the back side with painters’ tape to hold it together while my wife painted it, using acrylic paints and glitter. I followed this up with a couple clear coats of acrylic spray.  My wife decided to extend the challenge she had undergone, and painted the puzzle in a fashion to keep the difficulty at a high level.  Nobody is going to quickly solve this puzzle like a bat out of you know where!!

 

Interdependence on Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July!

Been busy and my little projects are humble! But I’ve had other things to do.

new old bedspread jenyskip
new old bedspread

This red satin (polyester) comforter was old and the batting inside had gotten all bunched up. I was going to throw it away, but the top of it was really a very savory huge piece of fabric. The bottom layer was a nasty old threadbare rag covered with fabric pills; if the skin of my foot ever accidentally touched the backing during the night, I would wake up recoiling in disgust. (My feet are very sensitive to substandard fabric!)

While shopping at JoAnn’s, I spotted a bolt of that extra-wide (108″) fabric that can be used as backings for large quilts, without having a seam.  So I slashed the quasimodo comforter, removed the hump of bunched up batting and the nasty backing, and replaced both with something new.  I thought of my grandmother, who told me that when she was young (in the Great Depression) they would cut the worn bedsheets down the middle and then re-sew them with the outer sides now seamed together in the middle. Waste not, want not!

cotton backing jenny skip
with new cotton backing

For quilting, I loaded it up on the king-size Grace frame, and I mostly traced over the embroidery on the satin top, and experimented a little with the Qnique.  I didn’t care about making it perfect.

I still haven’t mastered getting the bobbin tension right with the Qnique.

patriotic jenny skip
quilted back of patriotic table runner

If you look closely at the quilted back of this table runner, you can see the ugly bobbin stitches.

flag and eagle jenny skip
flag and eagle machine embroidery from Embroidery Library
table runner jenny skip
finished table runner project

This Fourth of July table runner was made from a cute little remnant, a remnant piece of fusible fleece for batting, and a collection of red, white and blue remnants die cut into tumbler shapes with an Accuquilt template. Binding is Wright’s double fold bias tape.

Are you watching fireworks tonight? Be safe.

 

Early Morning Walking in Central Florida

Sometimes known as Paradise on Earth…

We spent the night at Loew’s Portofino Bay hotel in Orlando, and these are pictures I took on my daily 30-minute walk after sunrise, except for the first one, which was the night before. The lighting is distinctly different! Also, we’ve been having a few days of seriously needed rain.

As we discussed in a prior post, traveling makes you also notice and appreciate more about your own home and surroundings. As I took my 30-minute walk this morning back at home in North Central Florida, I passed by this beautiful etched glass door on a professional office building I walk by every day, but I never really noticed it before!

doors jenny skip
etched glass doors

Reflections on “The Ultimate Sacrifice” at Memorial Day

As a historian for the family, I was racking my brain to think of any relative I actually knew, who got killed while serving. And I apologize in advance for that: if anyone in the family reads this and brings to mind a fallen hero cousin–please comment or message me and I will update this post. Sadly, many fallen soldiers were young and unmarried when they served and died, and so their ancestral line ended with them. 
Here’s a story of my 3rd cousin twice removed, who was shot down in 1943 (the war ended in 1945). This came from an old newspaper clipping, which didn’t include the date or the publication name, but from some clues, I think it was in the Belvidere (IL) Daily Republican  7 Nov  2007.  The code number after his name is a Personal Identifier Number for him on the Familysearch.org web site.  If you already have a free familysearch.org account with a pedigree chart in place, you may be able to see some pictures of your ancestors’ tombstones using this link , which  represents a collaboration between Familysearch and the BillionGraves sites. 

Europe’s Air War Kills 3 BHS Pals; Another Is POW

by Dave Grimm

As the nation’s “Greatest Generation” breaks ground on the long overdue World War Two memorial in Washington, D.C., tomorrow, Nov. 10, in time for a Veteran’s Day 55 years after the end of that crucial conflict, it is time to reflect on one of its most poignant chapters. It is the tale of three young men, two from the Belvidere High School class of 1937, and another a few years behind. Another from the class of 1937 was a friend who was to serve as courier of news about the others. All were members of various units of what was, in that era, the United States Army Air Corps, now the United States Air Force. Three of the four never returned to Belvidere, another was imprisoned for more than a year, until September, 1944, in Rumania, which was until early 1945 under the occupation of Nazi Germany before liberation by the Russians moving their Red Army juggernaut westward to finally crush the Third Reich and its 12-year reign of terror in Europe. Three of the classmates were crewmen on B-24 Consolidated “Liberator” bombers, huge, four-engined, twin-tailed aerial behemoths capable of carrying a minimum crew of eight, more than half a dozen Browning .50 caliber machine guns and over a ton of bombs long distances at high altitudes. These cigar-shaped monsters with their 70 feet of tapered wingspan were chosen to fly into Rumania to a place called Ploesti (pronounced approximately plo-yest-ee) north of the the nation’s capitol, Bucharest.

Few people in America outside the petroleum and international transportation industries had ever heard of the place but it was indeed famous, not only in Europe but worldwide as the center of the world’s oil production, indeed the birthplace of the oil industry, since it had contained the first producing petroleum well in the world a decade before the same feat was accomplished in 1859 in Titusville, PA, in the United States. In the intervening years, the area became the center for oil production for not-only Europe but also various other markets abroad. For this reason, one of the first items on Adolph Hitler’s timetable of aggression was the seizure, occupation and, most important, defense of the mammoth oil-producing and refining area. At the height of its usage by the Nazis, Ploesti was to become the supplier of the gasoline, diesel and heating fuel, lubricants and aviation gas for one-half of the German war machine, ground, sea and air. Many multinational oil companies had refineries there, including a French firm with the highest production capacity in the world. Standard Oil of Indiana also had a refinery which American engineers had built several years before the war. Following several months of planning as well as one ill-fated and rather ill-advised air raid into Ploesti as well as several raids by Russian aircraft prior to America’s entry into the European fray, it was decided that a lowlevel raid by heavy bombers would have the advantage of surprise as well as accuracy in an attempt to deprive Hitler of his most valuable non-human resource. This raid would take place Aug. 1, 1943.

The major problem with the strategists’ theory was that the Allied forces were still in North Africa, having just defeated the Afrika Korps and had yet to invade Sicily and Italy to provide bases 500 miles closer to Rumania. This raid was to take off from Benghazi in eastern Libya, fly across the Mediterranean to Greece, then Albania, then Yugoslavia, then Bulgaria and finally into Rumania. Once inside that country’s borders, the bombers would take a course indicating a raid on Bucharest, then take a heading to the oil center, do their grisly work and return the way they had come. Planes in trouble would continue east- ward to land in Turkey, Bulgaria and Cyprus. There would be no fighter protection, since no fighters or fighter bombers were available with the range capable of accompanying the bomber stream. The 178 planes and crews would be on their own and once arriving at the target, they would fly in at smokestack level, deliver their deadly loads on preselected targets which had been drummed into the heads of both pilots and bombardiers and hopefully, fly out with minimum casualties.

In three separate planes in three separate bomb groups, two members of Belvidere High School’s class of 1937 and one from the class of 1942 took their places in the predawn dark of Aug. 1. They were First Lieutenant Jack Lanning and technical sergeants Kenneth Holroyd and Arthur White. Lanning was a co-pilot and the enlisted men were flight engineers who also served as tail turret gunners. Lanning, back in bucolic Belvidere, had been president of his senior class and Holroyd had served as vice-president. Lon Byram, another member of the class was to provide news back to Belvidere of the fate of both men. He was later killed in an air crash in England. Both Lanning and Byram were members of th Bucs’ varsity football team. The two Ploesti raid participants weren’t to return to Boone County. Lanning went down in his plane, ”Wingo-Wango,” in the Ionian Sea. Witnesses said the plane crashed on the way to target for no apparent reason, just beginning to spin out of control and crash without communication with his fellows. Holroyd survived the raid but died several weeks later in an air training crash. White, however, lived a saga which is almost beyond belief in its content of luck and courage.

The raid, contrary to plan, produced no surprise as it had been tracked by both German spotters and radar nearly from its point of takeoff. Ploesti, in addition, had the most heavily defended anti-aircraft system in the world, thanks to a commander whose genius at defending against air attack earned him a twelve-year imprisonment in Russia after WWII ended. Also, contrary to plan, the lead bomber group made a wrong turn and headed for Bucharest rather than Ploesti to its north. Following groups changed the flow of the bomber stream, although it was a breach of orders, and made the proper approach to the target and made their bomb runs according to their navigators’ flight plans, leavmg the miscreant group to correct its error and arrive at Ploesti to find its targets in a high state of smoking ruin. But, in the process, many of the raiders themselves were in smoking ruins from the murderous crossfire thrown up by the German defenses which ranged from flak towers atop the tallest of the distillation plants to machine gun and cannon emplacements camoflaged as haystacks in the fields surrounding the ring of refineries and supporting pipelines and storage tanks which ringed the city of Ploesti proper.

Medals of Honor were given posthumously to pilots who flew their bombers into flaming storage tanks while gasoline streamed from their long-range fuel tanks which had been ruptured by the flak. Miraculously, other aircraft returned to Benghazi unscathed despite an almost constant attack by fighters of German, Rumanian and Bulgarian air defense squadrons. 55 aircraft returned out of the original 178 which mounted the raid. One of those which didn’t return was “Boilermaker 2” which was shot down and landed in a field north of Ploesti near the village of Timisul which was a prison camp although much different than what most Allied prisoners of war were used to. It was a castle belonging to a noble Rumanian family named Kantecazine and a princess of the royal family took the survivors under her wing, protecting them as well as survivors from several other aircraft and interceding with both the German and Rumanian military administrations for good treatment. Art White was one of these prisoners. As a member of the BHS class of 1942 he entered military service in that year, shortly after graduation from high school. Life, according to White in a statement to his wife, could have been worse. “There are a lot worse prison camps to be in,” was his assessment, she recalled. – This imprisonment, from which he was released when the Russians overran the area in September, 1944, included visits to the neighboring village, marching outside the barbed wire enclosure to chapel services for both Catholic and Protestant prisoners, and access to not only locally produced foodstuffs and spirits, was a far cry from the morning of departure when, his widow recalled, when the assembled crews nearly all felt that the mission was suicide and that none of them would be coming back. White had the honor of being interned with a wartime celebrity, British airman Douglas Collins, whose escape exploits from various POW cams took him from the Arctic Circle to the Black Sea and became the backdrop for several British and American movies about wartime prisoner of war camps. With Collins, he managed to escape by tunneling from Timisul beneath the wire but was recaptured, beaten and returned to incarceration. According to his daughter, Barbara Feltz, he always remained quiet about his exploits and experiences during WWII until 1980 when a grandson approached him about an interview regarding his wartime experiences for an emergency assignment. White related his story on tape and caused quite a stir among local historians in area schools and the tale was finally told to the Chicago Historical Society. Needless to say, the story earned the grandson five A’s for the effort. Arthur White died in 1981 at the age of 56, shortly after his story was told. He-was a carpentry contractor until his death.

The Ploesti raid did little immediate damage to Hitler’s oil supply lthough it is believed to have caused a shortage enough to induce the German war machine to begin turning its attention to much greater dependence on synthetic oil research, many products are still sold today when their formulae were taken from German scientists following the Axis surrender. By the time White was released, the Allies were bombing Ploesti night and day, much as they did Germany. By the time of the Russian liberation of Rumania, there had been 23 heavy bombing raids with 9,173 individual fighter and bomber sorties logged and 13,709 tons of explosives had been dropped. To the credit of the Rumanians, the Ploesti plants were still able to produce 20 percent of their full capacity.

TELEGRAM FROM WAR DEPARTMENT SAYS BOMBARDIER WAS IN ACTION IN MIDDLE EASTERN AREA –BELIEVED CERTAIN TO HAVE BEEN ENGAGED IN RAID ON OIL FIELDS IN RUMANIA IN WHICH 20 BOMBERS WERE LOST. Lieutenant Jack B. Lanning, son of .Mr, and Mrs, A .J. Lanning, 921 East Lincoln avenue, Belvidere, is reported “missing in action” by the war department. The forenoon the following telegram was received: Washington, D. C. Aug. 7, 1943. Mrs. Abe J Lanning, 921 East Lincoln Avenue, Belvidere, Illinois, Regret to Inform you report received your Son, First Lieutenant Jack B .Lanning, mlssing in action in middle eastern area since Aug. 1. If further details or other information are received you will be promptly notified. ULIO, The Adjutant General.

Sorry that it makes for such a long read, but there’s some pretty fascinating history there.

Our son was thinking of staying home today, rather than getting up at sunrise and putting on his dress blues to march in a parade. But in all good conscience, he did. Happy Memorial Day, and if you feel like entering a comment about your relative who made the ultimate sacrifice, we do appreciate it!

Mission BBQ jenny skip
[photo taken last November; son is the one in the dress blues 3rd from left] and grandson at the front

Historic Foundations for our Mother’s Day Holiday

Spending Mother’s Day in Philadelphia this year with some of my posterity! And having a great time!

Mothers day breakfast jennyskip
Mother’s Day breakfast buffet at home

Skip wanted all the kids to know that one of his ancestors, his first cousin twice removed, to be exact, is the ACTUAL originator of Mother’s Day [not Anna Jarvis, as most sources claim].

Sources that credit Anna Jarvis: NPR transcript from 2016, Wikipedia, Night Terror News,  the Smithsonian,  and Facebook

However, some sources also give credit to others who played a part in the establishment of Mother’s Day as a national US holiday.

Sources that give credit to others, including Skip’s relative Mary Towels Sasseen: Books Tell You Why, Kentucky for Kentucky, The Gleaner, Facebook page of McCracken County, KY, Time.com, and Henderson County KY History.

From the various accounts, apparently Mary Towels Sasseen Wilson had success organizing Mother’s Day celebrations and assemblies in Kentucky and several other large cities in the country. She died in 1906, at the birth of her only child. After her death, Anna Jarvis’ work petitioning government officials bore fruit, and Mother’s Day was declared a national holiday.

From some accounts, Anna Jarvis later went on a huge campaign to undo the holiday status of the day, because she felt that it quickly became a crutch for greedy vendors to reap profits pandering flowers, gifts, restaurant meals, and greeting cards so they could make money. We went against the wishes of Anna Jarvis and partied it up with gifts, cards, and flowers, and special meals. 🙂

special jennyskip
special day breakfast*

Happy Mother’s Day y’all.

 

 

 

 

*these flowers are actually from a dear friend for another occasion, but they still look beautiful a week later!

 

With More Than One Piece of Fabric

I’m loving an article in the current issue of Threads magazine: “The Lost Art of Piecing.” This is what my former blog, Project Remnant Review, was all about, pursuing projects that can be made using fabric remnants. Somehow I’ve felt that deep down, a project from remnants is maybe, second class. It satisfies my inner cheapskate. But when I make an item, I know that I didn’t start from scratch, visualizing the finished project, then purchasing the fabric that would make it a stand-out…instead, I “made do” with something I had, and which I no doubt bought at a reduced rate, too. These things I don’t mind. Apparel sewing is nothing but a big experiment for me.

Sometimes I will see parcels of fabric at the remnant rack, that I believe I have some of already, home in the stash. In that case, I might buy the remnant and add to what I have, opening the possibilities for making something out of that fabric.

Take this skirt, for instance:

stretch satin skirt jennyskip
stretch satin skirt

I had a little remnant of this that was less than a yard. So when I saw the Vogue pattern V8882 for a pleated, full skirt with a sash, my hopes to make a cute outfit for Valentine’s Day were dashed, because View D of the pattern asks for more than 5 yards of material. I got on the Internet and looked at the store where I originally bought the remnant to see if there was any more of it anywhere, and it referred me to my local Joann’s, which had only 4 yards in stock.

I went and got the 4 yards, but I didn’t have enough to make the article, without piecing fabric together for some of the pattern pieces. This skirt has an interfaced hem facing sewn to the bottom of the hem, then blind-stitched. I pieced the hem facing, since after all, it will be underneath and most likely will not be seen unless the wearer wants to go all out Moulin Rouge, with the high kicks.

pieced hem facing jennyskip
pieced hem facing

The sash is also a remnant, of sheer fabric. Rather than doubling the fabric, folding it, seaming and turning,  like the instructions said, I used one piece of the embroidered chiffon  for each sash end and hemmed the edges of them with a 2mm hemming foot.

pieced top jennyskip
pieced top

This top, view E  from Vogue 8792, was intended to be made from the same fabric, with pieces cut on different positions of the fabric grain. Instead, I made it from two different but similar remnants, one with the multi-colored stripes and one of white, gray and orange stripes. And instead of matching fabric for the neckband, I used black rib knit.

Vogue 9183 jennyskip
Vogue 9183

Like the top, this dress was intended to be pieced from two different fabrics, or the same fabric. I’ve seen lots of dresses like this in the middle-age and plus size clothing catalogs I’m apparently a target audience to receive in the mail, I guess because the black panels at the side are supposed to give an illusion of slimness.

panel dress jennyskip
pieced from different or same fabrics

And then there’s this project, Butterick B4597 View C.  The sash/scarf was a remnant, of double-sided red and grey plaid. But the dress fabric I thought I had plenty enough for this view, and I must have screwed up cutting it out to where suddenly, the last pieces to be cut had to be pieced. The two backs could not fit on my remaining fabric, so I pieced them so that there was a seam across the waist area in the back, which made the zipper area at the seam a little bulky, but I pressed it down hard and top-stitched the seam, then top-stitched the neckline and front slit to make it all look intentional.

pieced dress jennyskip
pieced dress

Here’s the pattern:

dress pattern jennyskip
dress pattern

The finished dress reminds me of something Guinan would wear. I like it although the Ponte knit is really more suited to cooler climates ….on Valentine’s Day here it was in the 80’s.  I have also made this dress before, a few years ago, as shown in this former blog post.

 

Easy, Earthy Presents From the Back Yard

It’s the day before Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve Eve) and we decided to make a crafty Christmas present we’ve been wanting to make ever since Thanksgiving, when some of our grown children showed us how to do it and asked for dad’s help.

candle holder jennyskip
Candle holder made by son

Natural-edge log tea-light candle holders were easy, earthy, and a breeze to make. We have a big pile of firewood out back, which probably won’t get burned any time soon since it’s been in the 70’s and 80’s this and the past few Decembers. And we have a pile of Yankee tea-light candles with delicious-sounding names like Christmas Thyme, Gingerbread Maple, and Christmas Cookie. I bought a bunch of them online for a friend’s son’s school band fundraiser, but you can also get a bag of tea-lights from the dollar rack at CVS pharmacy (although they may not smell as good!)

Skip explains all the steps we took to make a couple of these things, in the You-tube video:

They look good as single candle holders, completely natural with no embellishments, or grouped together and tied with a ribbon or raffia.

candle centerpiece jennyskip
candle centerpiece

Thanks for all the interest and love this past year. We wish you a very happy holiday the next few weeks, and hope for the best for each of you in the coming new year.

 

Building a “Cat-Proof” Christmas Tree

For the first time in many, many years, we decided to forgo getting a regular Christmas tree and make our own…out of wood.  The reason became very clear as we watched our six month old kittens repeatedly try to climb an artificial plant in our TV room only to have it come crashing to the floor.  Now, we have had cats forever and we have witnessed them denuding the Christmas tree one or two feet above the floor, drinking all the water out of the tree stand and pulling the tree skirt out from under the tree to make a nest.  But this year we decided to surrender to the cats and make a cat proof tree, or as one of our sons calls it, a cat accommodating tree!

basic plywood tree jennyskip
basic plywood tree

I acquired three 2’ x 4’ sheets of ½ inch Baltic plywood, and using scraps of wood and green deck screws, fastened the sheets together to form a 6’ x 4’ pallet for my wife to draw a Christmas tree. The plan was to construct a tree that could easily be disassembled once Christmas was over and to store the tree in the attic. I asked Jennifer to outline the tree and locate two large openings for shelves and two smaller openings to use for hanging cat play toys.  When this was completed I took a jig saw and cut out the tree and large openings. I used an electric drill with a 4” diameter hole saw to cut out the smaller openings.

I painted the tree with forest green paint and took it inside for Jennifer to decorate the tree.  We covered the dining room table with brown paper and it became our inside work bench for constructing the tree. Jennifer will tell you that our dining room table is my favorite work bench!!

While Jennifer added snow, popcorn, holly and beads, I began construction on the boxes that were to provide the support for the tree. The plan was to mount a 5” wide by 10”  deep by 10” high box to the back of the tree at the center. Five inches of the box was left exposed from the front and would be decorated as the tree trunk.  Two boxes 12”x 12” x 10” deep would be constructed and decorated as Christmas presents, these would be attached to the front of the tree on the left and right side of the trunk. This provided a very stable tripod arrangement to support the tree. These were fastened from the back of the tree using the same deck screws used throughout the build. The boxes were constructed using ½ inch Baltic plywood. I used a skill saw to cut out all the parts since my table saw was still occupied by the Boy Scout Eagle project we are working on (Adirondack chairs for a homeless shelter in town. Maybe a topic for another blog… how to build chairs with 10 boys 13 to 14 years old trying to use electric drills and sanders!)

Two 12” inch deep shelves were cut from the same ½ “ Baltic plywood. These had their front corners rounded off with the jig saw and painted red. Later these had a wooden strip attached to the bottom which provided a bracket for attaching the shelves to the tree.

tripod tree base jennyskip
three wooden boxes form tripod base

The tree was moved to the TV room and placed in front of the fireplace. The backup plan for supporting the tree was to run a board between the tree and underside of the fireplace mantel.  We then loaded the tops of the boxes and shelves with treats and hung two catnip toys in front of the small openings and sat back to see what happened. Our 16-year-old cat and the two kittens immediately put the tree to use. They climbed the front, the back and in between. The tree did not even shudder! Success!

cat Christmas tree jennyskip
cats checking out the tree

Of course, after 30 minutes the newness wore off and they haven’t been near the tree again. However, my wife and I have felt stress-free! No broken glass Christmas decorations!  No throw-up from the cats reacting to the chemicals added to the Christmas stand water to extend the life of the dying tree (only kidding about the chemicals). No urine stains on the Christmas tree skirt!  No 50,000 pine needles all over the floor to clog up the vacuum!  And I figure that if I get one of those tree shaped things you hang up in your car that are pine scented, we can even enjoy the smell of a real tree! Next, we might even add LED lights, battery-powered so we don’t duplicate the cat-atrophy I saw on the movie Christmas Lampoon!

Thanksgiving Day

We have so much to be thankful for!

We’re having our big get-together tomorrow so all the kids involved can also celebrate the holiday with other family members as well. We are all pretty much in good health at the moment. We’re looking forward to a fulfilling future. We’re grateful for the ancestors who survived, in spite of many challenges, to extend the familial pedigrees up to this day.

A  recent tendency is to “boo-hiss” the Pilgrims who came to America and displaced (a generic way of stating it) the Natives.  I don’t think I have any actual Mayflower ancestors, but Skip does. Some of our ancestors may not have done the right thing. They could have stayed in England, or France, or Ireland, or Germany, or (according to Skip’s DNA map) an obscure island out in the middle of the ocean, but somewhere down the line they made a decision to come to the New World. Did they ever imagine a time when someone could record their thoughts and instantly project them, electronically, to folks around the world, without waiting months for a letter in return? Thankful for communications, media, technology. Even though it will, at times, make me totally crazy.

puzzle Thanksgiving 2016 jennyskip
Thanksgiving 2016 wooden puzzle

Here’s the panel I hastily painted for Skip to cut into puzzle pieces–about 120 pieces.

back of puzzle jennyskip
cutting pattern on back of puzzle

We’ve made puzzles before that have the pieces cut out first, then we painted a picture on top of the cut-out pieces. He likes it better to have the image painted on first, then he draws a jigsaw pattern on the back and uses the pattern as a guide for where to cut with the saw blade.

Prior to cutting, he masked the image on the front with painter’s tape. Then, after cutting out, he removed the pieces of tape.

tape jennyskip
painter’s tape

Cutting the pieces generates some dust and small fibrous pieces on the cut edges, which we will deal with once the puzzle is reassembled.

puzzle in box jennyskip
in a lidded plastic box for safekeeping

Next step: printing a copy of the subject matter to attach to the box so the kids will know what the puzzle is supposed to look like.

Happy Thanksgiving!