Wyoming Vista   Leave a comment

Oaken Sunrise   Leave a comment

A brilliant summer sun rises over Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, shining golden light through the limbs of an old burl oak and burning away the morning fog. The refuge runs for almost 70 miles along the Minnesota River, providing visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy wildlife observation and recreation in the shadows of skyscrapers, grain elevators and towering trees. Photo by Erik Fremstad. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 8/19/16.

A brilliant summer sun rises over Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, shining golden light through the limbs of an old burl oak and burning away the morning fog. The refuge runs for almost 70 miles along the Minnesota River, providing visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy wildlife observation and recreation in the shadows of skyscrapers, grain elevators and towering trees. Photo by Erik Fremstad. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 8/19/16.

Mountain Tops To The Shoreline   Leave a comment

One Way To Get There: You Walk   Leave a comment

Getting into the backcountry yields rewards that are worth the effort. Montana's Glacier National Park. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 8/11/16.

Getting into the backcountry yields rewards that are worth the effort. Montana’s Glacier National Park. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 8/11/16.

More

Glacier National Park

Grinnell Formation

Grinnell Lake

Haystack Falls

Ninaistako

St Mary Falls

Two Medicine Lake

Which Is Prettier?

Posted August 26, 2016 by henrymowry in National Parks

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Colorado Vista   Leave a comment

Tyrannosaurus Lightning   1 comment

Tyrannosaurus Lightning

Have you ever seen lightning make such crazy shapes? This bolt looks like a Tyrannosaurus rex getting ready to chomp a formation at Blue Mesa in Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park. Monsoons usher in summer lightning, so explore safely and be sure to check the weather. Photo by Hallie Larsen, National Park Service. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 8/17/16.

Posted August 24, 2016 by henrymowry in National Parks

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Twinkles   Leave a comment

Posted August 23, 2016 by henrymowry in National Parks

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The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Festival 2016   Leave a comment

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

Tehachapi Mountain Festival 2016Tehachapi is a small town (population 13,000+) with at an elevation of 3,970′, and is located between the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. Tehachapi is about 60 miles north of us, in the mountains of southern Kern County.

Which must be why they host the annual Tehachapi Mountain Festival®.

There’s a rodeo. There’s a parade. There’s a 5K & 10K. There’s a carnival. There’s a car show (and I saw none of these, by the way, but I did see Miss Rodeo Kern County’s horse trailer.). The event takes place at Tehachapi’s Philip Marx Central Park, where a bandstand has free concerts and the streets are filled with vendors offering handmade goods. That’s my kind of good time.

We first visited Tehachapi as vendors last year, and had a fabulous time, as you can read in last year’s The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Festival. At the time, this was our Best. Event. Ever.

We’ve kept improving on our performance, however, and we’ve broken that record 5 times since. My only question is, can we keep it going?

New Ideas

  • We’ve both improved our presentations since last year … but we still don’t have a banner. We’ve introduced a few new products, of course, but we’re comparing results with an excellent, surprisingly successful event from last year.
  • New at this event is Aunt Sis’ Cloth Exfolier, available as a flat cloth or a mitt (see the last picture, below). Aunt Sis has been crocheting up a storm so she could be a part of the wonder that is Mrs M’s Handmade. That’s my version of the story, anyway.
  • This is our 80th event as vendors. I’m not sure we still qualify as beginners, but I know we are far, far from being experts.

Observations

  • The number of vendors effectively doubled this year, with many more vendors on the 2 streets surrounding the park. Unfortunately, many of the new vendors were not exhibiting handmade goods exclusively. In my humble opinion. Only handmade goods were allowed to be offered from the street positions (there were perhaps a dozen buy & sell vendors located in the purgatory on the south side of the park, just like last year). The mixing of non-handmade goods by some vendors was my only complaint with the event.
  • I love community events.
  • Great booth location … because it’s the same one we had last year. Personally, I don’t think which booth location you get matters much most of the time, but we are happy with our location … especially with vendor friends on both sides and behind our booth! Keeping the same location year-to-year is important, I believe. Own your space.
  • Both Mrs M & I had so many people come to our booth on Saturday and express their excitement that we were back again. Mrs M sold a lot of Soozy’s Achy Muscle Relief to people coming back for more, and that is always a wonderful thing!
  • I love community events.
  • Oh so many wannabe woodworkers talked to me at this event, and to a man (yup) they all asked where I got my lumber. It’s not easy to shop for exotics like I use when you leave LA County.
  • After thinking my large surfboards, AKA Elegant Cheese & Cracker Servers, would never sell … I’m now down to my last one. I need to make another big bunch ASAP!
  • Requests were pretty light this weekend … so it figures that the requests received were for chess pieces (2x) and (wait for it) … cribbage boards.
  • Someone asked Mrs M for soap made from ostrich oil. That’s a thing, come to find out. And, uh, I don’t want to know how you get the oil out of the ostrich.
  • I’m never going to be OK with the look of our booth until we:
    • Add mesh walls to both add hanging points and control our backdrop 100%
    • Get banners up above our booth header
  • The former may have to wait until we buy a new shade structure … maybe next year. If we need it. The latter needs to get handled ASAP. We. Need. Banners.
  • It was just days ago that I had pushed my inventory of boards & such to 215. After this event … I’m down to 140. And it’s only been 17 days!
  • I either need to make more stuff or stop letting people buy things.
  • Guess which option I’m choosing.
  • Results on Saturday seemed good, though not spectacular. Flat to prior year, I thought. Sunday started slow and stayed slow … but kept coming. In the end, we beat last year’s number by 4%. That’s not a record this year, but it’s still strong sales from this fun event.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Holiday Inn Express Biscuits & Gravy. Of course.

Saturday Lunch: Fish & Chips Surprise from one of the vendors at the Festival.

Saturday Snack: nope.

Saturday Dinner: Red House BBQ, with our good friends Jan & Barry. They were paying, so it was a great dinner. (Seriously, it was a great time, and nice to relax after a busy day vending).

Sunday Breakfast: The infamous HIE plastic cheese omelette.

Sunday Lunch: Some Chinese Chicken. On a stick.

Sunday Snack: Still nope.

Sunday Dinner: The best Mexican meal we’ve had in 3 attempts at the last 2 events … served at a gas station on our way out of town. We couldn’t believe it, either.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 152
  • Booth cost: $300
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Total sales: $2,759
  • # containers of product taken: 18
  • # boards available: 152
  • Saturday alarm: not needed
  • Sunday alarm: not needed
  • # transactions: 95
  • # soap & lotion vendors: We never saw any, but there was supposed to be someone there selling Sugar Scrub. Never found them.
  • # woodworking vendors: Several. There was a box maker, a toy maker (Hi again, Mitch!), and several people that used wood in signs, holiday decorations, etc.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 27:1
  • Returning next year? Yes.

Boards sold: 28

Magic Bottle Openers: 9

Cheese Boards: 5

Lazy Susans: 5

Large Surfboards: 2

Small Sous Chef Boards: 2

Small Surfboard: 1

Bread Board: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Chess Board: 1

Notepad Clipboard: 1

Brewing   Leave a comment

A rainbow follows a fleeting storm at Colorado National Monument. Photo by Dawn Morrow. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 8/1/16.

A rainbow follows a fleeting storm at Colorado National Monument. Photo by Dawn Morrow. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 8/1/16.

Posted August 21, 2016 by henrymowry in Photography

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2   Leave a comment

 

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MrsMowryI feel like I must start this post with a disclaimer…I am an avid Harry Potter fan. I spent my childhood attending midnight book releases at Barnes and Noble and sitting in lines for hours to see movie premieres. I recently cleaned out my closet and found more than 10 Harry Potter shirts…and forced myself to donate the one that really didn’t fit. It wasn’t easy. With all of this in mind, it’s hard to write a non-biased review of a new addition to a series I already love, but here goes nothing.

 

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

I’ll start by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself into the Harry Potter world once again. These are characters I know and love, and some of my issues with the plot were easy to ignore when I had the chance to read these old names on new pages.

The script picks up right where the books finish, opening with the Potter and Granger-Weasley families shepherding their children onto the Hogwarts Express. From there, we’re taken on an adventure across time, literally, starring Harry’s moody and petulant son, Albus. A member of Slytherin, Albus has been convinced by Delphi Diggory, cousin of Cedric Diggory, that Cedric’s life needs to be saved in order to get some of the blood off of Harry’s hands (um, what?).  In order to carry out this death wish, Albus, Delphi, and Scorpio (Malfoy’s son) break into the Ministry of Magic to steal one of the only remaining Time Turners from Hermione, the Minister of Magic. From here, the story takes on the qualities of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” The trio travel back in time three times, suffering the consequences that occur when a small change in the past drastically changes the future: Voldemort World, Cedric the Death Eater, and Ron and Hermione’s tragic lost love. Albus and Scorpious must find a way to fix the future with the help of our original favorite trio, while facing a new and incredibly dangerous enemy, one who was a friend.

While each separate adventure had its own bit of fun, I found the idea of the plot to be a little contrived. I know that this is a script, and therefore has a different life when it’s not being performed on a stage (as it is intended), but the idea of Cedric becoming a Death Eater because he was humiliated by his loss at the Triwizard Tournament seemed ludicrous to me. I also really hated the idea that Ron and Hermione would have remained friends just because they didn’t have a fight at the Yule Ball. At times it felt like this play was created purely to help us wade in a bit of nostalgia, bringing back old characters we loved and loved to hate and giving them a moment to shine again. The worst of which was Ron Weasley: we all love Ron because he’s a bit of a doofus. However, Ron’s character in this script was a complete joke. He was turned into an idiot with terrible timing, a feeble demeanor, and sub par dad jokes. After seven novels, I felt like Ron was not a static character. As he faced each challenge with Harry and Hermione, he grew to become a more skilled and capable wizard. Now he feels like the version of Ron we met on the Hogwarts Express as an 11-year-old, in other words, a buffoon. Not my favorite.

Some of the altered futures however, were amazing to imagine. When Umbridge shows up in Scorpio’s face, demanding he stop fooling around in the lake and help her celebrate Voldemort Day, I was giddy. Yes, that meant the tragic death of everyone we loved from the original series, but the world was so dark and fascinating. The Nazi-esque Death Eaters chanting “For Voldemort and Valor!” To one another was pretty exciting. I’m not a Slytherin myself, but I enjoyed the new version of Hogwarts, complete with muggle murder dungeons and Dementors as castle guests.

In the unaltered reality, I loved Hermione in all of her glory. She felt like the star of the play, and after the horrible race issues surrounding the casting of her role, I felt even more pride for how amazing her character is. Hermione is the new Minister of Magic. She’s powerful, but kind, skilled but humble, and a caring boss. She understands the seriousness of the situation and uses collaboration to save the day. She is by far the best character of the series, and luckily HPATCC doesn’t change that.

Finally, and most importantly, I loved that this play was still filled with magic. It is no easy feat to put on a show filled with magic spells, disappearing humans, flying wizards, and characters walking around stage with their exact replicas, and yet, HPATCC does it all. Reading the script, even with its flaws, made me want to see the show even more than I already did. From what I’ve heard, it is a truly magical experience.

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Posted August 20, 2016 by mrsmowry in Reading

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