Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summertime, summertime, sum sum sum SUMMERTIME

Ahhh - what better way to enjoy summer than with an icy cold, sweet and bite-y frozen adult beverage?  Complete with all the trimmings.

As the teacup is a shattered mess, and the teapot is, at this very moment, cowering in a darkened corner wracked with martini glass has bravely stepped up to the plate to star in this next blog post.

This was another Goodwill find - there is a slight chip on the edge, but I couldn't let that deter me from snagging this beauty.  I only found out after it made its way home with me that this martini glass was a promotional piece for Grey Goose Vodka - and prices range from 10-15 bucks on eBay to $200 for a set of 2 on Amazon.  Crazy what people will pay for something deemed 'collectable.'  I think I spent two bucks on mine.

Never one to leave a surface plain when I'm in artistic mode, I dug through the net for a bit of learning, got some supplies, and dressed the glass up by etching a pattern into the bowl.  I think the crazy branches go well with the pewter vine stem.  Unfortunately, with all the cold, sweet, lemony stuff currently occupying the bowl, you can't see the etching. I'll have to show off the etch work when I'm finished with my treat.

This is a strange summer for Wisconsin.  Usually by this time, we've all closed our windows and doors, cranked the A/C, and are bitterly complaining about the heat and humidity.  Traditionally, we have high 80's moving in to low 90's, and the humidity is so heavy you can practically backstroke in the air.  Then the heat wave comes, we reach triple digits, and start reminiscing about how wonderful winter is with -30 windchill. 

"Oh, what I wouldn't do for a cold breeze right now!" murmurs a portly woman industriously fanning her florid flesh with a copy of Vogue.  "Its hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk!"

And, yes...this happens pretty much every year.  Someone goes out and cracks an egg on the sidewalk, the road, the roof, the hood of someone's car, etc., and watches the poor embryonic chicken sizzle to its doom.  Sometimes, there are toast points involved.

                               Mmmmm...toast points.

But this summer has been fabulous.  We've had maybe one day of higher humidity, but it hasn't been all that hot.  The weatherman will tell us it's because of having such a long and cold winter that lake Michigan froze soooooooo deep and is still soooooooooo cold, it's having an effect on the temperatures.  Well, I can attest to the water of lake Michigan being REAL cold, as I found out when I dipped my toes in on the 13th...but I'd say, just like all weather predictions, he's got a 50% chance of being right on the reason behind our wonderful summer.

We're made it through the 4th of July Holiday weekend - America's independence day.  How do we celebrate this auspicious event?  Like every major holiday in this country, it's gone commercial.  We go to a carnival, consume WAY too many foods that are freakishly bad for us (ahem...deep fried Snicker's, anyone?), drink a lot of overpriced alcohol, get on metal contraptions that spin us 'till we're dizzy enough to puke (after the booze and the deep-fried candy bars, this is probably a good thing, in retrospect) and spend a ton of money we may or may not have in reserve on cheap junk or cheaper entertainment.

Oh...and for the finale of this holiday...we blow stuff up!!!!  

                      Can you tell I like this part?

I got 'volunteered' into more photo projects.  I happened to tell the guy who runs the Wisconsin Vapers Group on Facebook that the artwork on the SQO's band page was all my work.  His eyes lit up, he started to pant (well, it COULD have been the hot sun we were sitting in), and I believe I saw a bit of drool...  I knew I'd just announced an exploitable talent - and that I'd just volunteered for several favors.   Yea...I'm a sucker - but making Facebook banners is FUN.

A little aside on the whole 'vapers' thing - I am one.  I have been for better than 5 years.  By vaper, I mean I consume nicotine, not by igniting a carbon-based leaf product on fire and inhaling the results of that combustion into my lungs, but by using an electronic gizmo called a Personal Vaporizer (PV).  You may have heard them mentioned in the news by a different name:  they're called E-cigarettes, E-cigs, ENDS, E-hookahs, E-pipes, E-pens, vape pens, and just about any other E-name someone with half a brain could come up with.

They're really a neat idea - which, of course, sets a lot of tongues wagging and got a lot of busy-bodies all up in'd think we were running naked in the streets from the overblown reactions!  I'm going to stay away from the politics surrounding my little gizmo, however, because I promised myself I would NOT get political in this blog.

So let's get back to the blowing stuff up bit.  Firework displays are set off in pretty much every town in Wisconsin around the 4th.  Yes, there are some tiny towns who gang together to throw their celebrations, but we've got cars and everything - even in the middle of nowhere - so nobody misses out on their chance to watch the skies light up with multi-colored balls of fire and sparks.

It is very 'Murican! to blow stuff up.

I've seen good displays, I've seen bad ones.  My favorite had to be when I was a teen - they floated a barge out in the middle of Clear Lake in Iowa, and shot the fireworks off that!  Imagine thousands of people gathered on the shorelines, some with small fires on private property to keep them nasty mosquitoes away, some on the boat launches in the sodium-lights, some on bridges, some in the lake park - the lake was surrounded by humans - most of them with some source of illumination.  Imagine further, if you will, boats on the water, their dim running lights a thousand additional points of light glimmering in the still water.  Then the stately barge (ok, I'm waxing poetic, here, by calling it stately...) chugging it's way to the middle of the lake.  Watching the other boaters open a path and then close ranks behind the barge was a show in itself, with the promise of more to come...

There is NOTHING to compare to being on a boat in the middle of a darkened lake watching fireworks in the sky mirrored in the water.  It was a light show like no other!

I always flinch, now, BEFORE I hear the boom of the firework exploding, because being close enough to see the barge meant we were directly UNDER the pyrotechnic, and thus the sound wave reached us FAST.  Standing on solid ground, in a crowd, with the technicians a couple of hundred yards away is safer, yes, but somehow less satisfying.

I've watched the Rhythm and Booms show in Madison a couple of times (they're a national group who go all across the country) which is timed to music, but it still isn't as phenomenal as those small-town, lake country displays ON the lake...which I will probably never see again.

In the wake of our country's almost fanatical drive to protect the idiots from themselves, we've attempted to sterilize every aspect of life in this country that 'could' conceivably hurt someone, so I'm certain that the firework display on the lake has been deemed too dangerous to spectators, and moved to a safer locale.  A shame, if you ask me, to see the display go the way of the dinosaur.

My worst firework show had to have been one of the last ones I watched in Watertown.  Not because the pyrotechnics were bad, but because of the accident.  One of the mortars exploded in the canister, on the ground.  It was an ugly ball of light, not pretty and spread out across the sky.  The crowd saw the light first, then heard/felt the shockwave, then felt the wash of heat from the explosion.

When you blow stuff up, even when you're a professional pyromaniac, sometimes accidents happen.

After the blast, the show was momentarily stalled as the technicians rechecked their setup, before resuming the dazzling light show for the crowd's consumption.

I wonder how many other people will recant this story to their children, their friends, their families, as they watch the rocket's red glare and the bombs bursting in air to celebrate the country's liberation from an oppressive government?

Happy Birthday, America!

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