Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treating Dragon and Get Your Government Off My Holiday

Mikro had a blast Trick or Treating tonight, even though our control freak village government cancelled Halloween. I left a comment on our local online news outlet as follows:

Here comes the Nanny State, preempting parental judgment, treating us all like errant children and sending us to bed without dessert. Well, BOO to you, [village] brain trust. You haven't declared an emergency, you let us run around on these now suddenly unsafe roads all last night and today, spending our money in village stores, and *that* wasn't unsafe, but families celebrating together is? Give us some credit for enough common sense to avoid the posted as potentially hazardous areas without punishing the entire village for Con Ed's poor response time. Driving is not an essential part of trick or treating. It can still be done by walking (or rolling in a wheelchair or scooter.) This is America, all the erosion of our freedoms recently notwithstanding, and I will not cower at home because you think I should. My family will be out, safely enjoying the holiday, despite your unwarranted interference.

Under what authority do they presume to cancel a holiday? Will people be OK with it when it is Christmas, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving or Election Day next? This was not a government sponsored event that they had a right to regulate. And if the streets were unsafe for this purpose, they were unsafe for all purposes. This was over reaching.

So, in flagrant disregard for the paternalistic decree, out we went, safely, rationally, and without a hitch, joined by friends and fellow rebels from the neighborhood. Amazingly, since it was allegedly so very dangerous, there was *less* police presence than in previous years. Yet we went about our Trick or Treating for UNICEF unmolested and unharmed.

Mikro collected about ten dollars. I've been dropping all the change in my pockets into a UNICEF container since October 1st, so he will have a fair amount to donate from that. I think I'm up to about $30 there.

We finished the dragon costume in the nick of time, and over the course of the evening, it sprang a few seams that now need repaired. Since we may have an official, resceduled date for Trick or Treating here in the village, he may get to wear it again.

Dragon, the Evolution.... Mask Making Steps

Last time I posted, we were at this stage: the skullcap portion of the mask, with attachment points for ears...

Next, I sculpted the upper part of the snout. This is a cut up amazon box, held together by rubberbands, and plaster wrap. The nostrils are rolled bits of pasterwrap, molded to shape and then covered over with more plaster wrap. (Please forgive the mess in front of my desk is always messy.)

And then I attached the ears and the snout.

Hmm, still needs something... Modify the snout, since it looked a little too canine. Let's try horns. These are newspaper rolled into a cone and covered with plaster wrap...

And then I sculpted the lower snout, with more cut up amazon cardboard box, and some scotch tape, and plaster wrap. I cut a longish piece of cardboard and added it to the back, and will be attaching velcro to it, so it can be strapped on and worn beneath the top part of the mask. (Forgot to snap a photo...)

Next, after letting it dry over night, I broke out the spray paint. I had never used any of the chrome stuff before, and now know what NOT to do. It was also very cold outside and not optimal for painting. The stuff was dripping right off the plaster in the cold, so I would spray it and have Kev run it inside to dry. On a warm day, I could have done a much better job, but it seems to work OK. It just isn't the paint job I envisioned...

And I'm still not done. I'm going to be cutting teeth out of foam core and hot gluing them in, attaching plastic eye hole covers to give him amber eyes, adding the velcro to the lower jaw, and hot gluing some fabric matching the costume (tunic and pants that I free handed a pattern for and Kev sewed together for me, along with wings and a tail that Kev is designing...) along the back of the neck (sort of like a foreign legion hat, to cover the neck.)

All this still has to get done before dark, and I have treat bags to make up, as well.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Mikro has been under the weather, but is looking forward to Trick or Treating for UNICEF. This is his donations page, if anyone would like to contribute a dollar or so:

Freak Snowstorm With Damage

Snow before Halloween is unusual for this area. And the storm we got was unusually costly. It was a wet, heavy snow that snapped tree limbs, and took down whole trees in other parts of town. I suppose we were lucky -- all we lost were a bunch of fence panels (not that we needed the expense just now...) But it certainly could have been worse. We lost power around 6 pm, and spent a cold dark night wondering if the village tree was going to land on the house. Thankfully, it didn't, and our power came back at 230 am. We made the best of it, hauling out the camping lanterns and glow sticks, and I tried to keep Mikro entertained with a craft project while I worked on sculpting his dragon mask in the semi-dark.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Dragon's Beginnings

Photos from the very beginning stages of Mikro's Halloween mask. I'm sculpting it out of plaster wrap. He was pretty good about sitting still with goopy stuff on his plastic covered cranium... I thought he looked very steampunk in his goggles... The batman like ears are just the attachment points, not final product. Here's a very rough clay model I made of my concept. Hopefully the finished version will resemble it... I'm building the snout onto the helmet, but I think I will be doing the lower jaw as a separate piece that will strap on.

Fire Fair

Our local volunteer fire department runs a fantastic fire safety event every fall. The kids can earn a ride on a fire truck by completing 5 safety stations: they must make a mock 911 call and give the appropriate information, climb out of a window, climb down a fire ladder, draw up an escape plan and discuss it, and stop, drop and roll while covering their faces. At each station, their ticket gets punched. Five punches and they are good to go. Mikro did the stations twice and got two fire truck rides. And the second time, he got to ride shotgun!

Crayfish Dissection

Mikro asked me to order him some invertebrate dissection kits. He had done a squid dissection in science class, and wanted to do some more. So I ordered him a couple of kits from Carolina Biological Supply, which makes a line of young scientist's dissection kits. You get a teacher's guide, student instruction booklet, specimen and dissecting tools, for about $8.

I am very ambivalent about dissection, generally. (That probably goes along with being a vegetarian and a pacifist...) I see the value of it in learning anatomy and physiology, but I hate that something has to die to make it possible. Given that the request to do this came directly from Mikro, I went with it. I am not sure I would have if I had a different, less science obsessed kid. He still mentions veterinary medicine as a possible career, so I justify this to myself in that, if his interest is encouraged and he pursues it, he will surely help more critters than he takes apart... We both found the dissection fascinating but guilt inducing. It probably made it harder that he named his specimen...

Anyway, we started off with observing the gross external anatomy, drawing a diagram, and taking measurements. That's Mikro's drawing with my labeling below. I was really impressed with how seriously he took making the sketch.

Then we got into the actual dissection. The exoskeleton was very hard to cut through, so I wound up assisting. We saw the heart, gills (weird and feathery looking), esophagus and digestive tract.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

The manor house, done up in spooky lights, with eerie music playing...

Nearby temple of ghosts and graveyard:

This year's new additions: Greek Mythology, Sheep, and King Kong:

Prehistoric Creatures:


Mythical Creatures and Nature: