Elizabeth, the wool vendor

Elizabeth, the wool vendor

Well, most of the kids are asleep now. I am tired, and ought to be asleep, but I never go to bed this early. I would call Camp-in an unqualified success. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and a spiritual message was delivered successfully. The photo above shows Beth playing Elizabeth, the proprietor of a wool shop. She nailed all her lines and showed the kids how to make some sort of craft involving felting wool and soap. I didn’t pay too much attention to that part.

Va and I have been very busy this week recreating Nazareth. Adventurer Camp-in is tomorrow night, so we’ve been at it every evening since Tuesday. Because we will have church before the Camp-in starts, we can’t even finish building all the sets we need. So tomorrow afternoon, we will dive in and finish it off. Here’s some of what we have so far:
The left canvas is one we painted maybe four years ago to use in the Cradle Roll Sabbath School classroom. They use this when the program in there is about Jesus as a boy. Since it’s set in Nazareth, and the Camp-in is also set in Nazareth, we decided to press it into service again. The canvas on the right is one of nine that we painted this week. This particular one is supposed to be a continuation of the scene on the left.

Va adds olives to the olive trees

Va adds olives to the olive trees

These canvasses form three walls. This olive grove is the back wall. Va is busy painting olives on the trees.

There are four more rooms that will need a similar (but less extensive) treatment. For those, we are just using blank canvas drop cloths and some bed sheets. Actually, all of the painted canvasses are just drop cloths.

We had several Pathfinders come out and help us Tuesday evening, and a few more came out on Wednesday. When they were here, we spread tarps out on the carpet, laid the canvasses on top of them, and painted the sky and the hills. For this we used latex paint and paint rollers. A couple of kids used half our paint on the first sky. So I cut the paint with an equal amount of water, and Va bought another gallon of light blue, and another gallon of brown. We cut those 1:1 with water too. The next day we suspended them from the ceiling. Yesterday we painted the trees and grassy spots, and today we added the olives and some rocks. Also, today I extended the house.

The thing that makes this a Camp-in, is that when the Nazareth program is over, we spend the night. When we wake up, I have a Pathfinder meeting, and during that, we will record segments of the Pathfinder skit on video using some of this same scenery. Two birds. One stone.

I am exhausted. I have been exhausted every night when I’ve gotten home. But Penny doesn’t understand this. She wants me to throw her (broken) frisbee.



I am utterly exhausted. Camp In was last night, and we spent a considerable amount of time preparing for it. It was well attended though, and the kids (and adults) seemed to really enjoy the evening.

This first photo shows Ken explaining the embalmer’s art to the kids. Shaun is playing the part of the corpse. Ken is always a very interesting speaker. He sure has a way of capturing the attention of kids.

Ken, the embalmer explaining his art

Ken, the embalmer explaining his art

Once Ken explained the procedure, we were ready to try it out ourselves.

Beth getting mummified

Beth getting mummified

It took ten minutes to mummify a kid, and about 10 milliseconds for the kid to demummify. We were left with a rather large pile of “bandages” to deal with. The kids dealt with them in their own way.

Wrappings aflight


The program ended a little after nine, and by then we were smack in the middle of a wintery mix. Sleet, snow, rain, thunder – we had it all. I had transported two kids (and their adult) to the church, so I needed to give them a ride home again. David came along because he wanted to go home and sleep in a real bed. I can’t blame him at all for that. So the five of us set out in the storm. The worst part (driving-wise) was getting up the driveway at the church. The rest was no picnic either, but I managed to maintain control of the vehicle at all times. I made it back to the church before 11:00pm.

Shaun had set up the projector and the adults were watching a “Groundhog Day” DVD. The kids were pretending to try to sleep. They finally did collapse around midnight. I slept in my sleeping back on the (very) hard floor. Although “slept” would be a very generous term.

We got up a little before 8:00, cleaned up some of the mess, and then we all headed to McDonald’s for breakfast. They actually serve a pretty decent breakfast. Then we went home. I took a two-hour nap. Or maybe it was three hours, I’m not sure. It ended around noon though.

I muddled about the house a bit, and then had to head back to the church around 1:30 or 2:00. David came with me, and we took down some of the decorations and loaded a lot of stuff back into the car. Then we did some web-surfage while we waited for the Pathfinder meeting to start.

I’m home from that now, and I will be going to bed shortly.

This morning when I dropped Beth off at school, I was greeted by this sight:

The snow pile is deep

The snow pile is deep

The snow is deep, but this shot is a little misleading. The rim of that particular basketball goal is eight feet off the ground rather than the standard ten feet. Still.

Jonathan got out of class a bit early today, so the two of us went to Taco Bell for lunch. The plan was to swing by the church before piano lessons started and move some stuff out of the fellowship hall and into a closet. Unfortunately, traffic was not moving very quickly due to a lot of plowing & snow collection, and Taco Bell took a little longer than it should have. Also, piano lessons started earlier than we anticipated, because they were ongoing when we arrived. We didn’t move stuff into the closet, but I did grab the half-case of unsold grapefruit I had left. Jonathan dropped me off at Friendly Kitchen, and I gave them the citrus. He went home, and I walked back to the office (no need for him to navigate the tangle of downtown Concord, and the exercise sure wasn’t going to hurt me).

After work I met Va at Joanne’s Fabric (it’s maybe 300 yards from the office). They had a very long line, and Beth was still at school taking her turn with the piano instructor. We didn’t want to be late picking her up, so I abandoned Va at the store and went to fetch daughter. Only she wasn’t done with her lesson by then. Dunno why, but it is indeed apparent that my ability to project piano lesson logistics is somewhat impaired.

Praveen was there with his two kids though, so I asked him if he’d keep an eye on Beth while I fetched Va. So that’s how that went down. We made it back to the church and started decorating in earnest for Camp In (which is tomorrow). I hung some background imagery (store-boughten this year), and that does make it look a little more like Giza than Concord:

Praveen fits the cap

Praveen fits the cap

Yup. Desert. Praveen is fitting the cap to the pyramid. He’s going to paint it gold tonight (or maybe he has already).

Praveen is also building a full sized camel:

Headless Camel

Headless Camel

Here’s the as-yet-not-attached-or-completed head:
Camel Head

Camel Head

If he were a little more Godfatherly, I guess someone could expect to find this in their bed tonight. But I don’t think this quite reaches that level of gruesomeness.

We made it home around 6:00pm, which was a lot earlier than I thought it would be. Va is still working on some of the crafts for tomorrow, and i attached some brooches to four of the tunics and painted some plastic goblets with gold paint.

The cars are about 10% loaded right now – I have three sleeping bags in my trunk, and the tunics are in Va’s back seat. There’s about a half ton of additional cargo to load up in the morning. We’ll have the program, spend the night, and then come home and crash, exhausted. Unless we get snowed out! We’ve got another half foot ordered up for tomorrow. I hope that doesn’t affect attendance!

Today after work I stopped at the church to help Praveen build a pyramid.

Lumber & Styrafoam

Lumber & Styrafoam

Nearly Finished

Nearly Finished

There it is after being put together and painted. The frame is made of 2×3 lumber, and the sheathing is… styrafoam. I hope it survives until Saturday evening (which is when Camp In starts). Praveen plans to finish the peak with foam presentation board. We’ll have to remove a ceiling tile, but I guess that only makes it more impressive?

Praveen went home around 7:30pm, and as soon as I finished painting shortly afterwards, I did the same. When I got home I cranked out another tunic. I think that’s six now. I might crank out one more, but that remains to be seen.

We got the forecasted snow. It started yesterday, paused, and resumed again today. All told I guess we got 8 inches, which is about half what they were calling for.

I didn’t bother trying to go to work, but instead stayed here and made several tunics for Va’s Adventurer Camp-in this coming Saturday. She’s doing a program of Joseph in Egypt, and wanted as many white tunics as I could crank out. I think I knocked out four – they take about an hour each. I was hoping to make it to the church during the evenings to start decorating – we’re planning to build a pyramid in the fellowship hall.

I also put on the snowshoes and walked around the house a bit. We’ve got some massive icicles on the part of the roof I haven’t added extra insulation to. I’m kinda glad about that, as it tells me with no uncertainty that insulating the attic will prevent ice dams. I just need to finish the project! Meanwhile, I turned on the eave heaters to try to melt some channels in the ice up there so we don’t get a leaky roof.

I also took a lap around the trail in the back of our property. Penny came along and amazed me with her ability to ferret out a stick from beneath three feet of snow.

Penny found a stick

Penny found a stick

I also noted that our well is completely buried now:

Buried well head

Buried well head

I cleared the driveway before it got dark, just because I like doing that better when I can see. The other thing I did was installed a new distribution of Linux on my laptop. Three times. Once would have been enough, but I was trying to preserve all my user files, and keep my numeric user id (technical reasons) and that got a little complicated. So complicated in fact, that I had to redo everything. Twice. But it’s all good now. I switched to a 64-bit version so that I can install some tools that are 64-bit only for work. It should make my life a lot easier, but of course there will be several adjustments to suffer through on the way to ease.

It has been a long weekend. Camp-in went well Saturday evening. It was well-attended, and all the helpers showed up. The scenery was ready, though if we had started sooner, it would have been more elaborate, But it was more than sufficient. I forgot to bring my camera along, so I have no pictures of it.

When the program ended, Va suggested that she might just go to Walmart and get a couple of pillows instead of sending me home for them. The plan was for me to bring the boys home so Penny wouldn’t be all alone, grab the pillows, head back to the church, and spend the night. We didn’t have room on the car for the pillows on the first trip (it was crammed full of props and food). But Va thought I should just sleep at home. I didn’t argue.

She went to Walmart and we started taking stuff down (including the canvasses we had painted). The boys and I got home around 10:30pm I guess. I washed the dishes and then went to bed. I got up when Va got home this morning.

Then I needed to turn my attention to the next project. Pathfinder Sabbath is in two weeks, and I need to get ready for that. I went to Tilton to buy some puppet-makin’s. I read that a decent approach was to get stuffed animals and disembowel them. As it turns out, Valentine’s Day causes a flood of cheap stuffed animals to appear. I bought eight at $3.00 a pop. Mostly bears and dogs, but there’s a chimp in the mix for good measure.

At the Pathfinder meeting tonight we cut them open and removed most of the stuffing. The next step is to sew a sock or a glove into the innards to keep the rest of the stuffing inside. Then I’ll make some clothing for them.

The other part of my plan is to pre-record the audio portions of the puppet show. That accomplishes several things. First, we can edit out the mistakes. Second, I don’t have to worry about anyone flubbing their lines or ad libbing in an inappropriate way. Third, even though one of the kids was sick tonight, she will still get to participate – we won’t use her voice, but she’ll get to work a couple of the puppets. Fourth, I’ll know exactly how long the performance will be.

The only problem is that we only got about 70% of the dialog recorded before we ran out of time. We’ll finish it (and the puppets) next week. Then we’ll need to practice. Oh – and I’ll need to build a puppet stage.

My old friend Warran was back again tonight as well. He’s pitching in with the Pinewood Derby which we worked on some more. I think he’s going to stick around afterwards as well, meaning that my oldest unit will now have a counselor. Yay!

So that bring us up to date. I think I’ll spend the evening working on the sock I’m knitting.

I left the house this morning at 7:20 to take Beth and Jonathan to school. When I got home I assembled a fifth canvas for the backdrop we were making for Camp In. I loaded the rest of the canvasses in the car, plus the paint, brushes, and some tools. Then Va and I headed over to the church (two cars).

The first order of business was to hang the canvasses. But I needed some hardware for that. We went to Home Depot and bought some eye screws and some ceiling hooks. By then, Jonathan’s class for the day was over and it was almost lunch time. So we went and picked him up and then partook of the buffet at Pizza Hut.

My best joke of the day: Hut cuisine. So now you know how hilarious the day must have been.

Back to the church to hang the canvasses (with Jonathan’s help). Then we painted the fifth one light blue and then started painting grass on the others. Eventually, Beth got out of class too, and she helped paint grass as well. I gave her my outer shirt to wear as a smock which kept her from ruining her shirt, but it did not keep her from ruining her jeans. Oh well.

We painted all afternoon. And all evening. Va took Beth home at 7:30, and I stayed and painted until 9:30. Our backdrop now features a barn, a grape arbor, two apple trees, two other trees (species unknown), a pair of peach trees, and four pineapple plants. The pineapples turned out the best. Then Jonathan and I went home. I am tired now, but I still need to make a CD for Va and get ready to teach my class tomorrow.

Today we started to get ready for the Adventurer’s Camp-in that’s coming up… this weekend. Actually, Va has been getting ready for it for at least a month, but today I got involved too. The theme this year is “The Fruit of the Spirit” and it’s based on a passage in Galatians. The setting is in an orchard, so we have to turn the church basement into one of those. We figure the best approach would be to hang a bunch of canvas drop cloths and paint them up to look like a scene from an… orchard?

At first we were going to do this at the church, but I figure we might be a little more productive here at the house instead. I thought maybe we could pin a canvas on the dining room wall and paint it there. Finding no push-pins anywhere in the house, I went to the Staples Tilton to get some. Then I came home and we ate. As we ate, I had a better idea.

I decided that if I could assemble some furring strips into a 12-foot section, I could staple the top edge of the canvas to that. Then use two more 8-footers to wedge the canvas to the ceiling. I also thought that the whole concept might work better if we painted the entire canvas light blue (to serve as both sky and gesso). So I went to Tilton again. I bought a gallon of light blue paint and four furring strips. I got the cheapest paint I could find (ceiling latex, $7.97/gallon).

Then I assembled them as planned, and it worked perfectly. Va starting laying in some blue, and I took Beth upstairs to put her to bed. When I was done with that, Va had half the canvas painted. But she thought that maybe I should go get a couple more. Also, it looks like it takes almost exactly one gallon to paint a 9×12 canvas, so I should also get more paint (same color please). So I went to Tilton. Again.

When I got home, Va had nearly finished painting the canvas. She reserved the top foot for me, so I finished that off. Then I assembled a second canvas and wedged it against the ceiling, right in front of the first one. I might ought to paint it tonight too so we can do the artistic part tomorrow and Friday, but I’m pretty tired now.

Last night I went to bed around 11:00pm at the church. Around one o’clock I woke up with a pretty severe case of indigestion. I fought it for 30 minutes before I finally gave up. I got dressed, found my keys in Jonathan’s coat pocket, headed over to Walmart, and bought some Tums. The clerk asked me how I was doing, and I said “Pretty good.” Then added, “Except that I’m at Walmart at 1:30 in the morning buying antacid tablets.” I guess she got a chuckle out of it.

I ate about six of them in the car, then went back to the church and crawled back into my sleeping bag. I stayed there until about 7:00.

Michelle made pancakes for breakfast, but I was the last in line, and there were three left. There were also three kids behind me waiting for seconds. So I took one pancake and left the other two for them to fight over.

Then we put it into high gear to try to get the church back to some semblance of order before our renters came. I left my shaving horse there, but we got everything else into our two cars. We vacuumed the floors, took down the back drops, and stacked everything we could neatly along a rear wall. We pulled outta there at 9:00.

Beth wanted to go to a restaurant, and I was still hungry, so we headed over the McDonald’s and got some breakfast. I think everyone enjoyed it, but we were all very tired too. We came home after that and began unloading the cars. I think they’re all unloaded now, but we still haven’t put everything away.

Penny was sure glad to be home.

I took a nap from 2:30 – 3:30. Then I took a shower and got ready for Pathfinders. We headed out for that shortly after. The meeting went pretty well, as they usually do. The kids worked on the Pinewood Derby cars, and everyone really seemed to be pretty into that. We cleared out again at about 8:30, and then I had to take one kid home, stop for some groceries, fill the gas tank, and take a second kid home. We got home at 9:15. And ate some supper.

Now I’ve got Beth to bed, and I think she’s fast asleep now. I’m going to post this and then go rustle up the rest of my dinner.