Saturday, December 31, 2005

ROSE PARADE FLOAT CONTINUED

Went again to Downey to work on the Rose Parade Float. When I left the house around 11:30 it was only lightly misting but after I got there it shortly started to really rain. Fortunately the float and all the polar bears were in the shed and the flowers waiting to be put on were all under the tent. Aren't the roses above a beautiful shade of pink?

I thought it would be nice to get a picture of me with some of the roses to prove I was there. You can see the wet ground behind me.

After taking some pictures I came back to help these ladies. Long stem roses were being stripped of their leaves, about an inch or so cut off the bottom, then placed in a special solution for about three seconds to help them "keep", and then placed in a container of warm water.

These roses had been stripped of their leaves before I arrived.

These are some roses placed in vials. Some of the roses will be kept as long stems and placed as floral arrangements and others will be placed in vials and stuck into the foam on the float. The placement of most of the flowers on the float will not happen until early tomorrow morning. I will not be available to go back and help with that.

More pampas grass was obtained at the Getty Center with their permission. It all had to be stripped and sorted. This is what I did yesterday.

This is the large polar bear I showed you yesterday that had not been painted. Sometime after I left it had a cub added to its back, been painted and placed on the top front of the float. It will have to be covered with pampas grass by workers up on the float. The other two large bears are being worked on off the float and then they will be lifted into place.

Here is one of the baby bears on the float. One of the guys used pampas grass to give it a mohawk hairdo and a goatee. He did this because he has a mohawk and one of the other guys has a goatee. This will eventually be covered; you won't see this on TV.

Here is an unfinished cub on the back of the float, non camera side.

Later the body had been added and parts attached and he had been hammered into the float with spikes through his back. Then this young woman painted over the non white parts. Notice the purple stripes down the block the cub is on? This was something else I worked on with another woman. There were several blocks around the float like this and we put glue on the purple stripes and then covered them with a purple ground up flower. It is supposed to look like icy water coming down. This effect is also seen on the larger middle section of the float but we did not fill in those stripes.

This young man was working on something inside the float which created sparks. The camera really didn't capture the effect of the sparks, only the light. You can also see the finished purple effect of the stripes on this block.

And finally this is how the bear I showed you yesterday was looking when I left this afternoon. As you can see, this method of applying the pampas grass one little clump at a time and using pins is very time consuming. Some people were working on the other bear on the other side of the shed and still had a long ways to go and the bear on the top of the float had not even been started yet. Some discussion was being held has to what to do with the cubs. The censuses when I left was that they would also be covered with the grass. They are really going to look sodden in the rain that is predicted.

So, I had a good time. I wish I could actually put flowers on the float, but the timing isn't right. The float is to be towed with a motorcycle escort tomorrow around 5 PM to Pasadena. We are going to a party that starts at 5 so I will not be able to see that. Maybe next year.

Friday, December 30, 2005

ROSE PARADE FLOAT

Tuesday of this week and today I went over to the city of Downey and helped decorate their float entry for the Rose Parade. Jennifer and I had done this once before in 1996 and I just have never been able to get back since. This week I have had the time and am in good health, so I'm helping. It's a lot of fun. Tuesday I did nothing but fill vials with water. Today I was there from 11:30 AM to 4 PM. The theme of this year's float is Polar Wonderland. It represents polar bears escaping from a broken snow globe. Outside the shed where the float is being kept is an area where they are building and painting the polar bears.

The polar bear in the middle is still being styled and then it will be painted white like the other two.

There will also be baby polar bears and here are their heads.

Inside the shed you see the back of the float. At first I thought this was the front, but it isn't. The trees are really poles with bark glued on them, the branches consist of foam covered with moss (they were putting the moss on on Tuesday) and then over that they put on the pine branches.

Here is a young woman putting on some of the pines branches. This ladder is actually quite high.

A close up shows the roses and other flowers have already been put on top of the pine. They are all in vials of water. I was somewhat surprised to see them on the tree already. I am assuming they will be fully opened by Monday.

This woman is painstakingly cutting apart silver dollar plants.

Next to the shed is a tent area where more work goes on. This girl scout troop worked with flowers and then helped break apart pampas grass clumps.

Here are some of the flowers that will go on the float, probably Saturday.

And still more varieties of flowers.

They then brought in the two white painted polar bears. This one they lifted up on to the back of the float. They didn't even know at this point if the bears would fit on the float.

They had to put a wedge under his foot to keep the leg from cracking off.

After they saw what he looked like (and that he fit) they took him down so he could be worked on at ground level.

Someone as a joke put one of the "I worked on the float" pins on top of his nose.

I ended running into an old friend of mine, Dorothy. We have known each other since the mid 60's and she comes to work on this float every year. She and I worked on the front of the bear layering pampas grass.

She and I and a bunch of others were asked to put the pampas grass on the bear. No one really knew how to do this and we had very little supervision. The guy who asked me to do this was kind of vague about the whole thing ... he had never worked with pampas grass before, he didn't know how it should go on, just put it on. So that was what we did. Later he and some other guys came by and one of them was not smiling, he was not a happy camper. He did not like the "look", they looked like wooly mammoths not polar bears. So we were told to stop while they consulted. After about 15 minutes they brought a girl over who is apparently artistic and knows what she is doing and he asked her to try making the pampas grass look more like polar bear hair. Not so long and shaggy. So she cut sections about 3 inches long, sprayed the area with adhesive and then applied the sections of "hair" and used T-pins to secure them.

This was the effect she achieved (forget the front of the foot, that was from before and had not been taken off yet). The man liked this and so we all set to work doing it this way. After awhile though, because I was on the floor, my back could not take it so I moved on to other things. I was now covered in pampas grass, my hair was sticky and my hands were a mess.

I went over into the tent area and lo and behold the roses had arrived!

Groups of people were working with the roses and getting them ready to put into vials of water.

What they did was cut the rose the same length as the vial, remove the two or three "bad" outer petals, put the rose into the vial, and then put the vial into a hole that had been punched into a cardboard box top.

I joined a crew where I pulled off the bad petals. I got to sit down for this and it was much better on my back. When I went back to the polar bear to say good-bye to Dorothy they had not made as much progress as I expected. I plan to return tomorrow and it will be interesting to see what has happened to the polar bears and if they continue on that path. They don't look white but that doesn't seem to bother them.

More tomorrow.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

SURF AND SAND

Yesterday Jennifer and I went down to Seal Beach to see the "giant" waves. Don't think so. The waves were better than normal for surfers but not "giant". Now last week, Wednesday to be specific, the waves were anywhere from 12 to 20 feet. They even closed the pier so no one could be out on it and get swept into the ocean. The news keeps talking about the big surf so we decided to see for ourselves. Last Wednesday was the last day of school or we would have gone then. One of the moms in my class is a surfer chick. She surfs every day and when she came to our party late morning she had already been down to Seal Beach and surfed. She was really jazzed at how big they were and what a thrill it was to ride them. She was the only female in the water.

We walked out to the end of the pier and ate at Rubys (split a Ruby Burger, Frings (french fries and onion rings) and a Winter Mint Shake). I had a coupon from their internet club for the free shake and I have a Jitterbug card with them (55 and older) which gives me 10% off. So, not a bad deal. Walking back I took the following pictures. It was an overcast day, hence the weird yellowish color to the photos. One of our local news stations was there too in case the waves got big or the tide came in and flooded the homes along the shore (they didn't, it didn't).

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

R.I.P. CHRISTMAS TREE


Today at 3 AM Pacific Standard Time this beautiful tree that was in the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel at the Disney Resort in Anaheim caught fire and the top half was burned to a crisp. Some workers were replacing bulbs and when the lights were relit they caught fire. The sprinkler system kicked in and when the fire department arrived the fire was well under control. Alarms and the sprinkler system in the lobby went off and the hotel guests were evacuated for several hours. The tree is gone and the lobby is in the process of being cleaned up, lots of smoke and water damage. Such a beautiful lobby. The above picture was taken December 4, 2005 when my girlfriends and I went to the Sunday Brunch at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney. We walked around the area and went into the lobby to see the tree. My post about that day is somewhere below or in archives.

"Oh, Christmas tree; Oh, Christmas tree; How lovely were your branches"

Monday, December 26, 2005

THE DAY AFTER

So, did everyone get what they wanted for Christmas? I got more than I expected but first the above photo. It was taken Christmas Eve in our Church Library and it is the hand bell choir. That's me in the back row with the red scarf around my deck. We played three numbers. We began the evening by walking in from the sides and playing the first 6 measures of O Come, O Come Emmanuel which we then continued to play when we reached our places. Then we played Pat-A-Pan. I got so lost in the middle of that number but afterwards my family told me they could not tell. That's good. I am learning to not show facial expression when I make a mistake. Then mid way through the evenings program we played Christmas Medley which consisted of three Christmas songs of which I only remember one, The Carol of the Bells. That number went much better for me. Everyone said the bell choir performance was excellent. We have now been playing occasionally for two years and have gotten so much better. Thanks to Dorinda, our director pictured above seated on the far right, for this picture which her husband took. Me, I forgot my camera ... rats. I was going to have Paul use the movie record function on my camera to record the number we did but in the rush to leave the house, I forgot.

And no pictures of us here at home for Christmas. What is wrong with me??!! I keep forgetting to take pictures. Maybe I can get some today before Bruce leaves. Bruce, my brother, came in Saturday morning and will be leaving mid afternoon today. We have had a good time. Went to the above mentioned Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at church (which, besides the bell choir, was very good). After we got back home and had dinner Bruce and I watch Muppet Christmas Carol on DVD. The best Muppet movie ever made as far as I'm concerned.

Christmas morning after breakfast we all went to church and then back home for lunch. After lunch I prepared the turkey breast (I don't roast a whole big turkey for just the four of us) and put it in the oven to slow roast. Bruce and I played a DVD game called Disney Scene It which a student at school gave me. It was kind of complicated until we got the hang of it. Then it was time to watch the DisneyWorld Very Merry Christmas Parade on TV. After it was over Paul and I worked on dinner and we sat down to turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, olives and rolls for dinner. Should have taken a picture of the table and my plate of food!

After dinner clean up we finally got around to opening our gifts. We gave Bruce money to get his senior bus pass for January, a set of Corning Ware which he mentioned at Thanksgiving he doesn't have, two books, and a New York City World of Disney Store lithograph I got when I was there last Spring. Paul got a jean jacket which was all that he wanted. He also wanted a special kind of leather key chain to replace the one he has, but they no longer make that style. We also got a Chicken Soup for the Cat Lovers Soul from our three kitties in heaven who don't want us to forget them. Jennifer got a new Virgin Mobile Cell Phone (hers is two years old and you can't even read the numbers on the key pad anymore), a scarf and gloves with Jack Skeleton on them from Nightmare Before Christmas (one of her favorite movies), an apron and oven glove from her friends, extra rechargable batteries for her camera and a camera case, a Bad Cat Page A Day Calendar from Bruce, and her BIG present ... a Kitchen Aide Classic Mix Master. If she is going to be a chef, she needs something like this.

I got a Cat Page A Day Calendar from Bruce, a cute Christmas cup and bracelet from my friend Peggy, a throw and pillow from my friends Bob and Ellen, a port thing for the computer that has to do with the camera (not sure yet what exactly that does, but I'll find out), and my BIG and totally unexpected gift from Paul was a new digital movie camera. That was a surprise! I have been taking movies with my regular digital camera but I can only take up to 11 minutes and the quality is not that good. Paul has seen my frustration with it so bought me a real movie camera. I had been thinking of buying one for myself and was looking at ads, but it was more of a dream than a reality. But now my dream has come true. Yippee.

After gift opening Bruce, Paul and I sat down to watch March of the Penguins (a truly remarkable movie) and had cherry pie with cool whip for dessert.

I hope you all had a good Christmas and that your dreams came true too.

Now, on to the New Year in which I resolve to remember to take pictures for this blog!

Friday, December 23, 2005

AND STILL MORE CHRISTMAS PARTIES

The last two Christmas parties. I never thought I'd say I've had enough sweets and cakes ... but I have! Too much sugar is too much sugar!

So here are some pictures of the class party on the last day of school Wednesday, Dec. 21.

First of all, the above picture shows why I have trouble losing weight. This is a very common sight in the teacher's lounge. Food, food and more food all the time. I gathered what was there on Wednesday morning for this picture. On the left are several different kinds of pieces of cheesecake all placed on one plate. The thing on the far right was a huge chocolate chip, frosted cookie that a parent gave to the school. When I first saw it I thought that no one would eat it what with all the food available, the parties coming up and our staff luncheon after school ... but I was wrong. When I came back to take this picture 2/3rds of it had been consumed.

Yes, that's me on the right. Every year on the last day of school I wear my antlers with a Santa hat in the middle. A couple of years ago I tied two little Christmas ball ornaments on the antlers which swing around when I walk. The kids get a big kick out of it. I am also wearing my Disneyland Christmas shirt with Goofy dressed as Santa Claus. Plus I'm wearing several pins. Do I get into the Christmas spirit? You be the judge. The woman on the left came in to play the piano so the kids could sing Christmas carols (words NOT changed to be politically correct, thank you very much) and the woman next to me is the head room mom for my class and she read a story to the students and led the singing.

These treats for the class are little angels made out of white oreo cookies and lifesavers. The cookies are cut to form the bodies and the wings (how this is done so the cookie doesn't crack all to pieces, I don't know). Two lifesavers are "glued" together with frosting for the head and a yellow lifesaver is put on at an angle using frosting to look like a slipped halo. Then white frosting is piped on to the bodies. Very cute and a lot of work.

And more food! Each student, the teacher and myself were given a plate like this. Carrots with ranch dressing for dip, one of the angels, little smokies and a cheese open faced sandwich cut into a star. The kids (and me too) went nuts for the little smokies. Surprised the mom who heated them up and brought them as they were all gone by the time the party ended. Usually kids in First Grade don't like that kind of thing. But not this group.

Now it's time to move on to our annual staff Christmas luncheon held for the third year in a row at the Shenandoah at the Arbor restaurant.


The gentleman in the red sweater waving at you is our principal, Pat. We had five long put together tables in the outdoor seating area.

Sitting to my left sort of across from me is my teacher Catherine on the left and the other First Grade teacher Diana on the right. You can see heat pole lamps in the background. These are for when the weather turns cool, which it certainly wasn't yesterday nor will to be for some days. Tomorrow, Saturday, the forecast is calling for 84.

Here are some more of our happy staff getting reading to eat and looking forward to our ornament gift exchange.

And these are the gifts. We each purchase a $5 ornament and wrap it. Then we pick numbers and go and pick out a gift. Person #2 on can steal. In other words they can steal someone's ornament or pick a fresh one. If they steal, then the person who had their gift stolen from them has to pick a new one or steal from someone else and on it goes. At the very end person #1 can steal or keep what they have and the "game" is over. Also a gift can only be stolen three times. On the third time, that person who has it gets to keep it. It can no longer be stolen. I ended up with a gift which I stole and it was the third time so I got to keep it. It's a very pretty painted from the inside ornament with snowmen on it. Have I mentioned I have a snowman collection?


Of course, I must end with the food. I had the hand carved roasted turkey sandwich with fresh fruit. The other choice (sorry, no photo) was grandma's southern fried chicken with mashed potatoes. Everyone got the cheesecake for dessert. It was very light with a small side of whipped cream.

So endth the parties. Now for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Tomorrow my brother is coming and will stay the weekend. Tomorrow evening our church will have a candle light Christmas Eve service. The handbell choir, of which I am a member, will be playing at this.

I will try to remember to take pictures this weekend. Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of the plates of goodies I made for the neighbors.