Monday, August 21, 2017

Recovery Monday

Good morning, world. It is a quiet day here in the west suburbs of Chicago. The skies are overcast, which must be so disappointing to those anticipating the solar eclipse today. It's no big deal to me. I figured if I couldn't look at it with my eyes, I'm not interested. We're fresh out of welders' masks or eclipse viewing glasses, so I'll just sit this one out.

Today is a recovery Monday. Oy vey. We love, love, love our time at the Ren faire, but it sure takes a lot out of us. Those who spend their weekends at the Renaissance faire know all about recovering after the weekend. Most of us, like Chuck, still have to go to work. A few, like me, wallow in every comfort we can find while our bodies rest and rejuvenate.

Today I'm just listening to seventies music, and editing pictures. Yeah, I'm conserving my energy, and moving as little as possible, for the most part. It's one of those days when simply making the bed and taking out the trash feel like major accomplishments. 

After last week's confession about My Drinking Problem, I'm afraid I succumbed to the heat again yesterday, and dehydration kicked my butt even worse than last time. This time, Chuck was adamant that I seek first aid. 

One of our friends who works security at the faire had just arrived where we were in the military encampment, and Chuck asked for his assistance in getting me some help. When our friend's wife joined Chuck in encouraging me to go to first aid, I started to cry. Again. What is with the tears? Dehydration turns me into a big cry baby. Doesn't my body know I need to conserve those body fluids. Ugh. 

It's so weird. Both times I got dehydrated, I cried. I wasn't in pain. I wasn't scared. I just became so disoriented, and everything felt so confusing, my brain couldn't process what was going on, and the waterworks began. I couldn't help it.

My son said pickle juice is the original Gatorade.

It wasn't for a lack of trying to avoid dehydration this time! I drank water with Himalayan salt first thing that morning. I even drank dill pickle juice before we left home. That stuff is so nasty, but I thought if it would keep me hydrated, it would be worth it. I drank water on the way to the faire, and we stopped at the water fountains often throughout the day. My hydration plan worked Saturday; Sunday was a different story.

The day started out great. We watched the Bristol Buskin Frolic dance around the Maypole. We enjoyed our time at Tuscany Tavern watching the actors perform their favorite scenes from Shakespeare. We took so many fun pictures. 

True confession. My favorite picture from Sunday wasn't even one I took with my nice camera. It's just a cell phone pic taken by someone I don't even know.

I was so happy when Chuck offered to have our picture taken at the thrones across from the Kids' Kingdom. I had been wanting to do that, but thought he would think it was just silly. Just looking at the picture makes me so happy. There we were; the two of us, in our color-coordinated outfits, smiling big for the camera, just enjoying spending the day together at our favorite place. We always have the best time at the faire. 

Except when we don't. Chuck says he can see it in my eyes when I start going down from dehydration. My speech slows dramatically. I can feel my thoughts getting cloudy, but I am stubborn. 

Chuck asked me why I was mad at him when he was trying to assess my condition. I wasn't mad; I was just concentrating really hard on being coherent, and wanted him to believe that I was really okay. I wasn't, but I thought if I could just act like I was, eventually I'd feel better, and really be okay. 

Have you ever wondered what the first aid station behind the scenes is like? To someone overcome by heat and exhaustion, it is a mecca of relief. It's no Taj Mahal back there behind the fence, but they have everything a parched and overheated body needs. The first aid station is outfitted with air conditioning, chairs, stretchers, cold water, and Gatorade. The staff is kind and understanding. 

When we first got there, a young man asked me if I would like a cold, wet towel. That sounded so wonderful, and it was  as refreshing as it sounded. I wrapped the towel around my neck and pressed the coolness against my hot cheeks. I drank three small cups of Gatorade and a cold bottle of water. And then I just laid there, and tried hard not to cry. 

I don't even know how long we were there, but it felt like way too long. I could hear Moonie's whistling on the stage just outside the first aid station, and the crowd's laughter. I kept thinking of all the pictures we were missing. I wanted to feel better, and get back out there. After they took my vitals to make sure I was okay, they released us, and encouraged me to come  back if I felt worse. 

We received word from one of the flower vendors that she had a flower for us; one of our friends wanted us to have a rose. We chose a beautiful yellow one since yellow roses signify friendship. We are so lucky to have such wonderful friends at the faire. 

Thank you, Nancy!

We managed to enjoy a couple more hours, but then I started to feel unwell again. We had special plans for the end of the day; things we wanted to make sure we photographed. We had young friends who were leaving for college this week, whom we wouldn't see until next year, and there were goodbyes to be said. As much as I hated to admit it, I knew we needed to get out of the heat and humidity, and go home. 

Olivia, I wish we could have stayed until the drum jam. I know we missed a special performance.

Heat and humidity are not my friends. This girl was made for cool temperatures. I am dreading the end of the faire season after Labor Day, but there is a part of me that so looks forward to fall. 

Today I am very grateful that I can be home, and just rest.  I want to take this chance to thank Chuck for taking such good care of me, especially when I'm resistant to help because my brain is fried. I'm going to make sure I'm strong enough to enjoy these last couple of weeks at the faire. I love that place so much; I don't want to miss another minute because of dehydration. 

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to refill my glass with some refreshing lemonade, and listen to some old tunes from Jackson Browne. 

Here are of my favorite pictures from this last weekend which was Bristol Faire's Fantasy weekend.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thrifty Is Nifty (National Thrift Shop Day)

August 17 is National Thrift Shop Day! Who knew? This is the kind of thing I learn from listening to the radio in the car. Since thrift shops are my favorite places to spend money, I wanted to celebrate the day by sharing some of my favorite finds; some I bought, and some I photographed to enjoy the memory. I've learned I don't have to buy everything I like; it's simpler that way when it comes time to move.

Vintage typewriters fascinate me. Chuck bought me an old typewriter like this at a resale shop.

"One man's junk is another man's treasure." Nowhere is this more evident than in thrift shops.  Of course, I understand the whole minimalist approach, and eliminating those things from our homes that are not enjoyed or used regularly. Having moved my belongings five times in the last nine years, believe me, I totally get the whole purging concept. Chuck and I have at least one more move coming, so I try to keep my impulse shopping to a minimum. 

Some things are just fun to see, and I try not to buy anything that will end up back at a thrift shop within the next few years.

Thrifting allows me to pick up "nice-to-have" things without breaking the bank. Finding a bargain just makes me so happy. My kids and I love exploring together. We try on the hats, laugh at the odd collectibles, and occasionally score a great find at a bargain price. Chuck and I have even purchased gently used furniture, including an electric reclining love seat we bought for so much less than new! 

When Bridger visits me in Illinois, we always visit the thrift shops. He looks for guitars, sunglasses, and men's clothing.  I look at books, name-brand clothing, and toys for the puppies. Sometimes we just try on hats, and laugh at funny finds, but sometimes we find things we actually want!

One of my favorite Chico tops came from a resale shop.

I'm always on the lookout for brand name clothing I can't bring myself to purchase new. When I retired from teaching, I had hoped to treat myself to an outfit from Chico's. Lucky for me, my favorite resale shop has a whole rack of Chico's clothing, and I am the proud owner of some black embossed slacks and a leopard-print blouse that cost me a fraction of the cost of shopping at a retail store.

Paying full price just never makes sense to me when it comes to certain things like clothing, holiday decor or things for the puppies. Most of the clothes I've bought since moving to Illinois I bought used. Our Christmas tree skirt and some of our tree decorations were thrift shop finds. I buy stuffed toys for Bristol and Sami, knowing I'm not out too much money, even if they destroy their toys quickly which they tend to do. I even bought a child's fleece pullover for Bristol, and made him a little jacket out of it. 

Even when I don't find anything I would buy, I just enjoy browsing through the racks and shelves. I never know what I'm going to find, but I always have fun.

Remembering my childhood Easter hats and patent leather shoes, while wearing one of my
favorite bargain tops.

What are your favorite thrift shop items? Have you found any unbelievable deals buying second-hand?

Monday, August 14, 2017

My Drinking Problem

Saturday, I am embarrassed to say, I found myself stumbling around the Bristol Renaissance faire, feeling woozy, and not at all like myself. I had a serious drinking problem that day, but not the kind you usually associate with the revelry of Ren faires. 

There was a very important lesson I thought I already knew, that I had forgotten to remember: On summer days, even the pleasant, un-hot, un-humid ones, it is imperative to drink plenty of fluids. 

Chug! Chug! Chug!


Every cast member and every season pass holder at the Bristol Renaissance Faire knows this rule. Nearly every "regular" has a wooden or pewter stein strapped to their belts when they are not using them, so they are always ready to grab some water or lemonade. 

Yes, I had a serious drinking problem on Saturday; I did not drink enough H2O, and dehydration sucked all the fun out of my day. Somehow I forgot to drink water until it was too late, and by then, I didn't even care, which was not a good sign.

Saturday was one of the most lovely days, weather-wise. Cooler temps, and delightfully low humidity. Chuck and I arrived just after the gates opened, and I realized I had a headache moving in pretty quickly. We snapped a few photos of the Bristol Buskin Frolic around the maypole, and then we made a beeline for the nearest vendor with Diet Pepsi. 

I jokingly held my Diet Pepsi aloft, and told Chuck, "Nothing says Ren Faire like a Diet Pepsi in a plastic bottle."

Chuck followed up with, "Nothing seems to get rid of my wife's headache like a Diet Pepsi, though." It's true. It's my drug of choice when a headache strikes. 

To my lovely friends who have warned me against the evils of aspartame and diet sodas, I KNOW. I have been trying to give up all things "diet." Anything with artificial sweeteners has been verboten. But I had a terrible headache, and nothing seems to cure it faster than some Tylenol and liquid caffeine. (And it tastes so good. Shhh. I know; I know.) My dear sister-friends who treat me like they are overbearing mamas when I imbibe in my favorite naughty nectar remind me constantly of the dangers of diet soda. (I love you, Susan and Sharen.)

Notice the Renaissance-style "Big Gulp."

The morning's Diet Pepsi gave me a false sense of hydration. Now in my mind, I know caffeinated drinks are diuretics. They tend to DEhydrate, not REhydrate. So from 10 ish to noonish, I only drank that one soda. Usually we drink lots of water, every time we pass by the fountains. Unfortunately, my headache made me content to just park myself in the Guild of Saint Michael's military encampment for a couple of hours, without drinking or eating. By the time the parade was ready to start after noon, I knew I was in trouble, and for the rest of the day, I never felt like myself.

Fetching pails of water, ren faire-style.

When my husband asked me questions, I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I knew my thoughts were confused, and my speech delayed. Chuck realized I needed to drink and eat, and encouraged me to get moving toward food and water. As we walked up the hill toward the eating establishments, I began to cry. I felt so childish, but I was so miserable, I couldn't stop the tears. 

Now I cry during sad movies, and when my friends are suffering, and when my children are unhappy, but I don't generally cry because I am uncomfortable or in pain. Chuck was worried. He asked if he should ask security to take me out in a golf cart. I was mortified. NO! How embarrassing. I knew I wasn't feeling well, but I can be stubborn. 

After guzzling water from the nearest fountain, I sat in the shade on a bench while Chuck got me a bottle of water. On our way to find food, we ran into friends. I wanted to talk. I wanted to take pictures. Instead I gave a little hug, took a quick pic, and mumbled about needing to go, and stumbled along behind Chuck who was quite concerned about taking care of me. Again, he had me sit in the shade, and he found me some protein in the form of a bratwurst. I ate it, and started to feel a little better. 

It wasn't long, though, before I started feeling light-headed again. What the heck? Chuck had me drink another bottle of water, and we sat in our air-conditioned car in the parking lot for awhile. 

Even "Big" guys need to drink.

Dehydration is more serious than I realized. It's so much more than being thirsty. It affects our energy and our thinking. 

Dehydration is serious business.

Since my recent first-hand experience, many faire friends have offered survival tips to PREVENT it and MANAGE it. Prevention would have been best, but I have been told, there is no shame in asking for help from the first aid and security personnel; that's why they are there, after all. 

Even cast members deal with the effects of dehydration. I am grateful for their insights and advice.

Here are my friends' tips. (Disclaimer: none of these faire folk are medical professionals, just people who deal with extreme heat and humidity while wearing costumes that weigh as much as a young child.)

1. Drink lots of water. Not soda. Not alcohol. WATER.

2. Eat pickles. There are pickle vendors strategically placed around the faire. Many even recommend drinking the pickle juice.

3. Drink V-8 juice. (A dear friend says, "If V-8 tastes good, you need it." She managed to drink THREE servings without shuddering from the taste when she was suffering from dehydration.)

4. Seek first aid. The staff are prepared to drive patrons and cast members to the first aid station where Gatorade, air-conditioning, and a place to lie down are offered.

Live and learn. I was told by a ren faire veteran that now that I've suffered the ill effects of not being hydrated, I may be more susceptible to it. Knowing that, I will be hyper-vigilant. I really don't want to miss out on any more faire experiences. 

Remember, we need to hydrate with plenty of water throughout the day. No more drinking problems for me. From now on, my biggest problem will be finding privies throughout the day, if you know what I mean. We need to drink up so we can completely enjoy a full day at the Bristol Renaissance Faire!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Let's Celebrate Wheat and Honey!

Lammas is a special festival celebrating wheat and honey, two of my favorite things. It commemorates the first-fruits of the harvest between the first of August and the first of September. The festival of Lammas is celebrated with gusto by the Guild of Saint Michael at the Bristol Renaissance Faire

Hearty loaves of bread were served at lunch from the military encampment's hearth. The perfect companions to the bread were sweet, golden honey, and tankards of ale (which was actually apple juice and honey, described as "addictive as crack" by one young enthusiast). The children's collection of toys includes corn dollies this time of year.

From The White Goddess, we learn "Lammas is a festival celebrating the first fruits of harvest, the fruits of our labours, and seeing the desires that we had at the start of the year unfold so rituals will be centered around this." The festival also recognizes that soon the hot days of summer will end. (Glory be. Hallelujah.)

Just seeing the stalks of wheat tucked into headbands, and made into garlands, made me reflect on the coming of autumn. This morning I began to think about the desires I had at the beginning of the year.

My word for 2017 is CONNECTION, and what a year of connections it has been. From getting to renew our friendships at the Bristol Ren Faire now that the season is well underway, to enjoying the wonderful young families who are our neighbors, to deepening a close friendship with a nearby friend, to getting to know our extended family in Illinois better, to adding to members to our family in the way of two puppies, to maintaining relationships with my children and family members far away, this has already been a remarkable year of connection. 

The Lammas Day at faire was extra-special spending the day with Chuck and Bridger.

Festivals of celebration are fun, and become especially meaningful when we take the time to think about their origins and significance. This morning has been a quiet time for me to ponder my connections that have made this year so special.

What desires did you have at the beginning of the year? Are you happy with where your desires are taking you? Is there anything you'd like to do differently as our year takes us from summer to fall? 

I have loved getting to know the personalities behind these pretty smiles.

These are some of my favorite photographs from the Bristol Renaissance Faire yesterday.

It has been such a pleasure getting to know this amazing woman who happens to be a wonderful photographer.

A moment between friends.

A very special friend I met at the faire.

What a great surprise; running into these beautiful friends of ours from Saint Charles.

The sun sets on another glorious day of Lammas.