Empty Bobbins: The Renn Faire Carney

So I love going to the Georgia Renaissance Festival.  It’s always fun, and I find some super cool bags and jewelry.  This post is about one not-so-pleasant episode years ago.  That being said, I’ve gone back just about every year and always have a blast.  This year was no exception.  But while there, my husband and I were reminded of this story and entertained our friends in the re-telling of it.  I thought I’d share with you all as well.  Here’s another “empty bobbin” moment for you.

Empty bobbins are moments in life where we pause and reflect.  It’s like when your bobbin runs out in the middle of a project, and you have to pause everything you’re doing to reload.


This incident took place about seven years ago when our daughter was about 6 months old.  We went to the Renaissance Faire in Fairburn, Georgia, and it was a hot day already.  It was also crowded. My husband pushed the stroller over the Georgia red clay of the parking lot as well as the gravel and on in to the actual fair.  Once we were in, I took over the stroller duty, and we looked in the different booths as we strolled.

My husband is 6’1”, and I’m 5’ 5.5” (yes, the .5 is important), so it’s easy to understand he’ll often outpace me without realizing it.  I rounded a corner, still pushing the stroller, and a lady sitting in the front of a booth to my right called a guy’s name and pointed to the stroller.

I’ll take a time out and comment that it actually wasn’t unusual for folks to point at my daughter while we’re out.  She had a large dose of my husband’s Nordic ancestry, and her big blue eyes and fair skin get her a lot of compliments.  (She was still bald at 6 months, so her curly blonde hair would come later.)

So the lady pointing to the stroller didn’t really strike me as odd.  After all, the Renn Faire folks are supposed to interact with the guests, and they’ll say all sorts of silly things in an effort to interact.  Going back to the pointing lady in the booth, I looked over to whomever she called, and a guy working the strength test booth, the one with the mallet and the bell, started walking towards me.  He was tall and not exactly fit.  He had long, stringy black hair that went to his waist tied behind him in a low-set ponytail and a goatee.  He was so tall that it only took a few strides to bring him even with me.  As he stopped beside me, he put his pointer finger on the stroller and said, “Stop” somewhat haughtily.

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My thought was something along the lines of Okay, not the most polite way to start a conversation, but I’ll play along.  What’s funny is that the Renn Faire carnies are the thing my husband likes the least about the Renaissance Faire.  I decided to play along in the spirit of the Renn Faire, so I stopped walking and called out to my husband who had accidentally outpaced us, although we were both so engrossed in the booths that we hadn’t noticed.  He turned around, and the man with the ponytail beside me raised his arm and hand towards my husband and crooked his finger at him in the “come here” signal.  Again, I’m thinking Not exactly polite.

I’ll take another time out to describe a peculiar trait of my husband’s appearance.  He has a beard. Not a little, scruffy thing.  No.  It’s a nice, full, Bob Villa, Viking beard.  I love it.  And when he’s angry, he bites his bottom lip, making the part of his beard below his bottom lip stick out.  I refer to it as his “mad flag.”  And when it goes up, you need to back the hell down.

At the sight of this tall, ponytailed man condescendingly signaling him to come to him, I could see from my position several yards away a distant mad flag signaling a warning.  In the spirit of Renn Faire, my husband simply replied, “No thank you.”  Whew, he chose the path of politeness.  We could go.

Nope.

The man beckoned again, and I looked up to my husband somewhat helplessly.  Whatever Ponytail had to say had better be feckin’ hilarious, but it wasn’t off to a promising start.  In the spirit of Renn Faire – my husband walked over.  He didn’t even have time to stop when the guy uttered what would become a family saying for years.

“SHE carried the baby for nine months; the least YOU can do is push the stroller.”

How judgmental could you get?  The implications in such a simple statement!  In one comment, he’d managed to question both the role of father AND husband.  This guy had no idea who we were as a family.  For all he knew, my husband could have been suffering from some arthritis incurred from injuries he received from an IED from his days in the service.  I could have been trying to get some resistance training in as part of my triathlon conditioning.  This man only knew what he saw – me pushing a stroller.  He, who probably had neither wife nor child, had decided to take it upon himself to be the Georgia Renaissance Faire Stroller Nazi, and we were a prime target.  Except we weren’t.  I was married to a Viking descendant.  Oh. Shit.  At that point, I knew the next move I had to make was in the best interest of everyone.  All I could see was my husband’s future mug shot, a bail amount we didn’t possess, and a court date we didn’t have time for.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

I muttered, “Oh, he pushes.  He does,” and I started walking, pushing that stroller as fast as I could without outright running.  I passed my husband in a few steps, and his gait had definitely increased in vigor as he was approaching Ponytail, mad flag at full mast.  I whispered as I passed him, “Let it go.”  (Long before Frozen, mind you.)  And I kept walking and didn’t look back.  Somehow, I was hoping an invisible tether between myself, him, and our infant daughter would pull him along, and he would forsake sacking and pillaging Ponytail and his Test of Strength booth.  After a few moments, when I didn’t hear the sound of bludgeoning, I turned around to see him following me, red faced and furious.  Whew, it had worked.  He hadn’t hit him with his own booth mallet.

Unfortunately, the Renn Faire is in a circle, and my husband’s hackles were definitely up as he spied him through the fair exit.  I mentioned something about bail money, and we managed to leave the fair without physical altercation.

I’ll add the disclaimer that the vast majority of folks who work a Renn Faire are really stand up people and fun to be around. This experience reflects our episode with one D-bag.

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One good thing that came out of the trip was my daughter discovering the joy of dill pickles.

Related blogs and posts:

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

8 Reasons to Love the Georgia Renaissance Festival

Georgia Renaissance Festival

Crawfish T-shirt Quilt

This t-shirt quilt was for a friend in memory of her father-in-law.  Apparently it was a tradition for him to get her funny shirts from the crawfish shacks he frequented.  I’ll admit some of them were pretty funny.

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I liked this one for another reason, too.  If I’m correct in my thinking, this is the first quilt where we picked out fabric via online; she lives in a different state.  I liked the whimsical fabric choice for the backing, and I used a coordinating fabric for the sashing.

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It was a nice thematic change of pace for me.  I’m in Georgia, so I probably won’t get the chance to make many crawfish quilts.

Related posts and blogs:

Southern Belly: Crawfish

Beyond Gumbo: My Lousiana Crawfish Po-boys

 

 

Empty Bobbins: Mr. S’s Love

Empty bobbins are moments in life where we pause and reflect.  It’s like when your bobbin runs out in the middle of a project, and you have to pause everything you’re doing to reload.  Here’s one such reflective moment.

Mr. S’s Love

Years ago, my kids and I were walking around the curve in our previous neighborhood, which is mostly retired people, when I waved to two older gentlemen talking in a front yard.  Their conversation ended as we passed, and one man, now referred to as Mr. S, walked over to say hello to us.  We all said hello, and I pointed to our house.  He said he remembered when we moved in that we didn’t have kids.  I made a comment about no adult supervision, and then he asked if the kids liked candy.

Was it mean that I immediately thought he was going to offer us a Werther’s Original hard candy? 

I mentioned we had enough Easter candy, but he seemed eager, so I finally capitulated and accepted his offer of some mints and chocolate covered raisins.  And I do love some chocolate covered raisins.  He invited us up to the house.

I’d noticed his house before.  It was newer and looked very nice and quaint from the outside.  It was certainly in a different league from my 1978 doodoo brown ranch house.  He opened a side door into the kitchen, and we walked in.  (I’ll add I wasn’t too worried about safety as Mr. S lived alone and was 86 years old.  Pretty sure I could take him if need be.)  Here’s where the moment became more than just candy and mints.

You see, Mr. S was a widower, a fact he shared with me as we entered the house.  He said his wife had passed away about six years ago, and they had been married for 56 years.  He said, “When you’ve been married for that long, you kinda get used to one another.”  I know our younger family reminds our older neighbors of that period in their lives sometimes, so I smiled and figured that seeing me with my 3 year old and 1 year old reminded him of his own family.  But later he informed me they had no children.

And then, he proceeded to show off the house.  He said his wife had had it built, and that she had passed not long after it was finished.  He commented, “She built me a house and then left me” more than once.  He mentioned her constantly, too.  At times, it even sounded like he was fussing at her for leaving him, but in a good-natured way.

I’ll admit it – the house was perfect.  It was just what I would have designed for myself: wainscoting, high ceilings, large kitchen, sun porch, butler’s pantry – elegant but not pretentious.  He showed us all around the bottom floor, and I couldn’t quite figure out why.  I mean, yes, the house was gorgeous, but we’d come over for candy and mints.  I hadn’t commented on the house much at all.  Certainly not enough to warrant a tour.

As we walked, I saw pictures of his wife were everywhere.  There were pictures of her when she was younger at the early part of their marriage all the way to gray haired dame.  And yet, she still didn’t look “old” at the most recent picture I saw.  The house looked very sophisticated and decorated, and I figured it hadn’t changed much since she’d gotten it set the way she wanted.  And then it hit me as to why we were getting a tour.

Mr. S was proud of his wife.  He was bragging on her, even six years after she’d died he was still beaming with pride.  Every detail of the house was attributed her good taste and ability.  I’d never met Mrs. S, but her presence was everywhere in that home.  If I had walked in without Mr. S there to narrate, I’d have assumed she was still very much alive.  The house just felt…complete.  It didn’t feel like an 86 year old widower lived there.  That house was just as much Mrs. S’s today as it was 6 years ago when it was finished in time for her to pass on.

I suppose it’s a good thing that Mr. and Mrs. S had gotten used to each other after all that time because it’s clear she isn’t leaving him any time soon.

Of course, this was several years ago.  I have since learned of Mr. S’s own passing.  And while it was sad to know that such a kindly old man wouldn’t be waving at us from his yard anymore or offering mints and chocolate covered raisins, I couldn’t help but smile a little because I knew he was finally back with Mrs. S.

Sloth t-shirt quilt update

This is a short update on the sloth t-shirt quilt.

For the fabric around the shirts, my friend likes apple green, among many colors, so I thought it would be a good match.  Normally I go for darker colors when making the frames and borders, but since there’s so much room here I think it’ll look nice.

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For me, there’s not much else that compliments apple green better than beige.  So for the complimentary fabric, I chose an unbleached muslin.  I love how it has texture and little flecks in it.

I’ve framed the shirts so far and made most of the blocks for the other parts of the top.  I have about four blocks left to make before I can assemble the top.

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The sloth quilt is going to be on hold for a bit while I get a more time-sensitive commission taken care of.  I’ll post updates on that as well.  Stay tuned!

 

Senior Band Quilt

This quilt was gifted, so I can share!

This quilt is a great example of why I tell folks not to worry about not having enough t-shirts for a certain size quilt.  I can always add in more blocks.  For example, this person had 8 shirts but wanted a twin-sized quilt for her daughter.  So I simply went in and added quartered blocks alternating with the shirts.  I like the overall look.

Layout

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I was still waiting for the embroidered patches to get back to me. Hence the hole in the middle.

Also, I had a couple of clients want to know about embroidery.  That is one service I do not offer as of yet.  Sometimes I think about getting a fancy embroidery machine, but then I remember that I am limited on  space and funds and time.  I don’t know if I would even have the time to fully learn it.  I still have a serger that I am too scared to touch.

One thing about this quilt that I especially love is the backing.  It is made from a fabric called “shirting flannel”.  So it’s extra soft.  Basically, it’s pajama pants material.  Can you imagine?!  A quilt with pajama pants material on the back?!  I keep looking for more ways to incorporate this kind of material into my quilts as it’s just so darned comfy!

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Pajama Pants Material!

In progress: sloth t-shirt quilt

I’m at the beginning stages of a sloth t-shirt quilt and thought I’d share. This one isn’t a surprise, so I can post along the way.

I’ve seen some online tutorials and such on t-shirt quilts, but unless the person is an actual quilter they all forget one thing: stabilizer. T-shirts are made of jersey knit fabric, and that stuff likes to curl, shift, and stretch. So you NEED stabilizer to make your shirts look properly flat and keep the picture straight.

I’m cutting these blocks in a smaller one than usual. They’ll be 12″x12″.

I am happy when shirts are such as I don’t have to re-center them or add on fabric at the neck and shoulders so that everything is squared properly. It makes for a quick evening’s work!

Here’s the layout design.