Dunno how to explain this one, but there was at least six inches of snow on the deck this morning, but only about four on the driveway. I got up 30 minutes early and cleared it off with no trouble though. Then Jonathan, Beth, and I went to school/work.

After work, Jonathan and I stopped at Taco Bell before going over to the church. He worked on mastering the audio for the puppet show this coming Sabbath, and I took down the paint room we had set up in one of the rooms last Sunday. The puppeteers showed up a little after 6:00, and we started rehearsing. It went pretty well! Well enough that I didn’t call for a second rehearsal tomorrow night. I asked Jonathan to burn our soundtrack onto a CD for each kid so thy could listen to it dozens of times before the performance.

I also handed over the unfinished puppets to one of the parents so she could finish them before the weekend arrives. Then we came home.

Beth was already in bed waiting for her bedtime story. We read the last chapter to The Return of the King, and I think this marks my 15th reading of that particular trilogy. She certainly enjoyed it. Dunno what we’ll read next though.

Tomorrow I need to pick up a chunk of linen to serve as the backdrop for our puppet stage. I also realized that we have a Pathfinder meeting scheduled for Sunday, and I have no idea what honor we will work on then. Maybe Firefighting, but that depends on whether Paul will join us for our annual inspection. I need to ask him! I’ve been so focussed on Pathfinder Sabbath that I haven’t given any thought at all to the day that follows.

Lot’s of things happened today, so I’ll just start at the beginning. First, nearly every school around here was cancelled because of snow. But what was really unusual was that it was on the forecast of snow, not on snow falling from the sky and piling up on the roads. I can’t recall that having ever happened here before. Beth’s school, with its one teacher born and bred in Tennessee, was about the only open school anywhere near here. She did decide to close at noon though. Many of my co-workers also stayed home, so the office was nearly empty.

David had an orthodontia appointment this morning, so Va brought him in for that. Jonathan got out of class just before noon too, so we all decided to have lunch together and enjoy some “Hut cuisine.” (Couldn’t resist reusing that one. Sorry.)

While we were eating, the snow began to fly. I went back to the office, and the rest of the family went home. I had intended to work until 5:00, but the snow was getting pretty thick. I decided not to risk it, and left around 4:30. It was slow going, but I managed to get home without incident.

And what did I find at the house? The replacement hook gear for my sewing machine. And joy of joys! It was a metal gear, not a nylon one. Woo hoo! So after supper, I cleared the table and tore into the sewing machine. It resisted my best efforts. I took out every set screw holding the hook gear onto its shaft, and I removed the bevel gear with which it mates. I pryed. I cajoled. But nothing I could do would dislodge it from its shaft. And then I broke a rod that drives that shaft. Snap. I suppose I could buy a replacement, but it’s going to be a real booger to get it on. It’s other end lies deep within the bowels of the sewing machine. Sigh.

Of course that means there is absolutely no way I’m going to get the puppet costumes made before Friday. So I asked one of the parents if she would make a few of them. She is already making two, and I have already made two. I really only need four more, and one of those is nearly finished. I’ll prolly hand-stitch it.

Last time I checked we had about five inches of snow on the ground. I’ll need to get up early to clear it, or if it stops snowing before it gets too late, maybe I’ll clear it tonight.

I really enjoyed this strip today. Maybe you’ll like it too.

I finished painting my Pinewood Derby plane today. I’d take a picture, but I’m pretty tired right now. You’ll just hafta take my word for it that it looks really nice. I still haven’t put any wheels on it, but what’s the hurry? Oh – the race is next Saturday evening, so I guess that’s the hurry. Still, there’s plenty-o-time.

I brought the puppet theater to the church tonight for the Pathfinder meeting. We rehearsed the skit. Jonathan edited together all the dialog we had, but it still needs a couple of pauses added here and there for some of the action to take place. One of my voices from last week wasn’t there this week. So we had to re-record his parts, since not all of his part had been recorded. I can’t switch voices in mid-skit! We’ll rehearse again on Wednesday evening, because there are still kinks to work out.

I guess I’ll post this now, as Penny keeps slapping her snout onto my keyboard. I think she’s jealous of the laptop. She’ll get her snout under it sometimes like she’d trying to throw it off my lap.

I hauled the PVC puppet theater up from the basement tonight. I had to take it apart in order to do that, but it was designed to be taken apart, so that was not a problem. I reassembled it and then opened up the canvases I had bought to cover it. Wouldn’t you know it, the one I bought to serve as the backdrop was the wrong size. I thought I was getting a 4×6 canvas, but it was a 4×5 instead. The theater is 6′ long too, so this will in no way work. Oh well. The other canvas is 4×15, so I could conceivably cut 6′ off of it and use that for the backdrop, but then I’d have to sew the 4×5 to the remainder so I’d have enough canvas to cover the front and sides. I suspect I will just get a length of white linen instead, so that I can opt to project scenery onto it someday.

I still need to make one more puppet, and I need to make clothes for six more, but until the sewing machine is recommissioned, that ain’t gonna happen.

I finished my first sock last night. I knitted it without any errors (that I know of), but I have decided I don’t really like the pattern. It’s kinda hard to tell that until you’ve knitted one though. I guess. So now I’m doomed to knit another sock just like it, or have a half pair of socks. I went ahead and started the second sock tonight. Maybe the pattern will grow on me after I wear them a bit.

Today at lunch, Jonathan and I went to the Tea Garden, a Chinese restaurant. We stopped at the bank on the way so I could make a deposit. I thought the food was pretty good, and Jonathan said he enjoyed it as well. Plus it wasn’t any more than a deli, except that I gave nearly a 30% tip (on $3.00 on an $11 check). Still a $3.00 tip seemed pretty lean.

We walked back to the office the back way along the railroad tracks. That’s the path I usually tread when I take a lunchtime walk in the summer looking for blooms to log. There were no blooms today.

After I finished the sock last night, I went down to the basement and sawed up some PVC. Then I assembled it into a puppet theater. I think it’s going to work out pretty OK. I had the idea later today that the back drop could be made from a thin white sheet (or white linen of some sort), and then we could project scenery onto it from behind. How cool would that be? Answer: All the way cool.

But of course there’s no time for that for this production. I still need to cut up and stitch the canvas covering together for it. And maybe paint it, but I think that will have to wait too. Plus with the sewing machine out of commission, I’m going to have to wait on doing any stitching anyhow.

I also need to wedge a little time in this week or next to paint my Pinewood Derby car. I guess I should go out and buy some paint.

I got the sewing machine out tonight so I could work on the puppet costumes. First I hand sewed the sleeves on to the rest of the garment, but then wanted to use the sewing machine to zip the sides together. It did not go well. First it made a huge mess of the bobbin thread, and it kinda wanted to suck the fabric down into the machine. I pulled it out and cut the mess off the seam and attempted to make another pass.

That’s when the noises started. I’ve heard that before. I opened the bobbin door and turned the wheel on the side of the machine. The needle was coming down on top of the bobbin case. And that’s bad. It won’t sew AT ALL when that happens, and it takes the point right off the needle. I needed to retime it.

Last time it did that I found instructions online. I couldn’t find them online tonight, but then I remembered that I had saved them on my laptop. So I opened the file, and there it was. So the next thing I opened was the sewing machine. I managed to retime it all right, but it wouldn’t stay retimed. So I reretimed it. Twice. The nylon bevel gear got its teeth all bunged up, so it was skipping gears on every rotation.

My uncle, a brilliant retired machinist and tool maker, was just writing the other day about how he had made a gear out of aluminum to replace a nylon one. I was going to ask him if he wanted to make a gear for me, but I found the one I needed online for $13.94 (after shipping). I ordered one, but it’s still nylon. It should be here in time for me to fix the sewing machine and then make a half dozen puppet costumes before the puppet show.

I also stopped at Lowes on the way home tonight and bought a bunch of PVC fittings with which I intend to construct a puppet theater. I might go down to the basement and work on that in a little while, but we’ll see.

I made tunics for the two puppets I posted about yesterday. I still need to make accoutrements for six more, and I also need to build a puppet theater. And get some gloves for the other two soon-to-be puppets I have here at the house.

I also knitted a bit more on my sock. It’s getting close to the toe now, and maybe I’ll get to that later tonight. Other than that… I got nuthin’.

For Pathfinder Sabbath, the Friend class (my unit) will be doing a puppet show. For that, we’re going to need puppets. I went to Walmart yesterday and bought some plush toys with the intention of turning them into puppets. I must say that step one is the most satisfying, which is when you cut them off at the waist. Step two was to remove most of the stuffing (leaving it in the head). Tonight I took it to the next level (which provides a workable puppet) which is to sew a sock into it. That will hide the puppeteers arms as well as prevent the head stuffing from coming out. Here’s how two of them look so far:

Plush toy puppets

Plush toy puppets

I did come up with a neat trick for sewing the socks to the puppets. The problem is that the needle will either not penetrate the sock, or it could penetrate multiple layers which would sew the sock closed. To prevent this, I crammed a plastic cup into the sock first. Then I jammed the needle in until it hit the plastic, and I knew I had picked up exactly one layer of sock. My first (admittedly stupid) approach was to poke my left hand in there and gingerly insert the needle until I felt a slight needle prick. The cup went much more quickly.

They are just about usable in this state, but shirts that say “Love you” and “Hug me” do not exactly advance the plot of our puppet skit. So they will get garments.

I sent two puppets home with two kids (four puppets in all) after giving the parents some rough instructions for making them. I shoulda given them some cloth too so they could make the costumes, but that didn’t occur to me until tonight.

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.