Halloween Bro Quilts

These quilts are not made of fabric.  They are made of whiskey, love, horror movies, and Halloween spirit.

First of all, it is not weird for one dude to make and send another dude a quilt.  It is not.  If you believe it is, you need a friend like Carl.  

     Two weeks ago, I accomplished my goal of making a Halloween quilt for my family and I.  It is an absolutely insane design using so called crazy quilting.  I was curious if I would be able to make it start to finish by October first.  I wanted it to be something that my family and I could use for watching Halloween movies, start a real tradition around something made with my own hands.  I had some of the fabric already, and then I made my way into the Joann fabric sale…and the crazy quilt started as this…

And then moved down to this

It took me roughly 38 hours to make it…except I was making a second one in secret.  See I got this buddy Carl, and by buddy, I mean best friend a guy could have.  We used to spend October together, and now I am in Texas and he’s back in amazing New England.  So I decided to make one for my buddy.  Now you need to understand that I was having motivation, the kind that comes from making something awesome for someone you love and giving them something real, fight against time, the realist thing of all and one of the things you can do nothing with except make yourself more efficient.  Luckily the crazy quilt lends itself to having extra pieces for making another one, for reasons I will show another time.  

    This quilt has been quite a trip.  I bought a ton of fabric at Joann, I was sent some from my mother’s and grandmother’s stashes, and some was left over from other quilts.  Those leftovers were pretty minimal in some cases, they were bought for other quilts and were used, but they are Joann staples.  Unfortunately I could not find any in my stores…so I called some friends all the way back in New England.  Enter The Ross.  The Ross came through in all the ways asking nothing but a small amount of fabric.  The Ross was able to get fabric bought and shipped to me on a wednesday and get it all the way to Texas by Friday afternoon in time for me to start sewing that night.  

I finished my quilt on September 30th with a little time to spare.  I had been working on Carl’s a little in the background, doing stuff here and there, attaching strips made from the ends of strips for the first quilt.  September 30th after finishing mine, I turned around and started Carl’s.  Seven hours later I was finishe with the top, another two hours and the bottom was made and everything was pinned.  Last weekend I set to quilting it and it only took an additional seven hours.  I was only hoping to get it done in time to have him get it in October, but as I was quilting, I realized that maybe, just maybe I could get it to him on a Friday the 13th, in October.  Carl recieved his quilt today, exclaiming joy and surprise while describing me as a “crazy bastard.”  Praise from Caesar.  He showed me with this photo.   

   Fifty-six hours of my life, time the unreplenishable currency, and I declare that it was well spent.  I love making things, especially to give away.  Hours of life stitched into reality.  Happy Halloween everyone, thought about making something real lately?

Analog Savage

Brandon Bledsoe 

Advertisements

Who are the people in your life? A tribute to Felix

This is not going to sound like an analog story, but it is.  One of the first real things for humans was, I argue, other humans.  Real things, as I have said before, excite the senses, stir memory, and give life to the heart.  The first, most fundamental, and the basis (IMO) for all other real things is quite simply, your company, the people in your life.  When we enjoy things, especially analog things, we want to share them with our friends, family, the people whose company we enjoy.

    I started to write this the other night, and now I have had to start over to make the appropriate changes.  When I started it, the man who is at the heart of it would probably have gotten a kick out of the fact that I wrote about him.  I never entertained the idea that he would not get to read it, or to know that I wrote about him, but now that is the reality.  

   Just because I run an analog page does not mean that I exclusively enjoy analog things.  The Savage happens to be a film junkie, especially for those which are deeply rooted in my life, those that are so deeply ingrained that to remove them would most likely cause some form of withdrawal.  Halloween movies are where I would say an easy quarter of these types of favorite live for me.  We love Halloween, almost nothing better in the world.  This past Saturday I took the boys to the local pop up of Spirit Halloween to acquire a costume for the toddler.  This particular Spirit is built into a mall as it turns out, and we went on the right day to wander into a Halloween fair.  Between Spirit and the Halloween fair I came back considerably relieved of some of my spending money.  I love to support people who make things, if the thing they make is worth buying, like these.  

 

    These are amazing, but the winner of the day was the licensed Hocus Pocus merchandise from Spirt

 

   These wonderful items required me to reflect on this film and how I came to love it.  That took me back to 1994 in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee.  I was seven years old, attending Allen Elementary school.  This movie had been a rave at theaters, and the fact that it was going to come out on video (VHS) was heavy buzz at the time.  Some cousins of ours owned a video store, if you come from Soddy Daisy, you may remember Volunteer Video.  It was in the same building as the Soddy Daisy Bi-Lo, on the side, next to the tanning bed.  My mother would let us hang out in there since it was our family that owned it, while she shopped.  I want to put out a disclaimer now, this is being remembered from the perspective of a child, and most of it took place at least 15 years ago or more, I am not clear on exactly who owned what or when, but I am also not writing a history of the Bledsoes and Leffews.  

   Anyhow, the waiting list for a copy of Hocus Pocus at this mom and pop video store where they used rubber bands and paper tags to mark cases where the movie was all rented out was forever long.  Everyone wanted a copy and had gotten on the list well in advance.  The people I remember being there were our cousins (who to this day I call aunt and uncle) Kim and Terry, and Terry’s parents Felix and Loretta.  Later, in some combination of dates, they would all live in the small house built by my great grandfather, Eugene, parent to my grandfather and the before mentioned Loretta.  There were three houses on that plot of land where my first memories come from and where my family had lived since what I understand was just after World War II.  

    My mother still took me to the video store, which was alway fun despite the movie you were after being booked.  Felix was behind the counter (remember they were all family and any weekend spent with my Grandfather or Uncle Fred was partially spent with Kim, Terry, Felix, and Loretta as we were playing with Kim and Terry’s children too) and when he asked what it would be, if I wanted The Nightmare Before Christmas again (he knew my common rentals) I said yes.  He asked if I was sure, and when I gave the affirmative again, he reached under the counter and pulled out a copy of Hocus Pocus with my name on a sticky note asking if I would rather have that.  I could not believe it. There it was.  Just for me.  Plenty of people wanting that movie and there was this copy held for me.  Plenty of people may have been involved from Terry to my Mother having called ahead, but it was the warm face of Felix who handed it across the counter to me.  I never forgot that.  I had always liked Felix, but from then on I felt like he and I were really friends, and it is now twenty-three years on and I wear that movie thin every October.  

   Felix always had a kind word, a smoke, and a polo shirt.  We were always welcome in that house, we ran in and out all day every season the weekends that we were all together, and none of them ever complained at us.  Felix would happily let you sit and watch the Tennessee Volunteers game or whatever movie was on with him.  He was not a perfect man I am sure, and I probably knew him least of all the people who remember him well, but I knew him well enough to know that he was a good man, and that is more than the belief of a child.  Later he would get a Facebook and we would share a word here and there, not as much as my memory of him indicates, and he would like just about anything I posted, especially pictures of my kids and such.  I think the last time I may have seen him for more than ten minutes in person was 2008, and we were on leave from Iraq.  I do wish I had taken more time for him.  I read that he was having surgery and offered a comment, but really it barely registered.  I should have done the real thing.  I should have picked up the phone.  At least I should have messaged him and had a ten minute chat with him.  I am not full of regret, but Felix did not come back after that heart surgery to tell us he was doing well.  He passed away.   

    I believe there are many measures to a person, but the ones that are most important to me are how you treat those who are smaller than you, and how good the stories are that are told about you.  Felix has excelled at both.  Felix, I was already in the process of telling the Hocus Pocus story, but now I have gotten to write more, ironically, because you are not here to read it, and you had a positive influence on a seven year old cousin who grew up to share this film with his friends, family, and especially children.  If I am wrong, and there is any sort of afterlife, then that place is certainly better as of last night, and this world is just a little more time.  Thank you Felix.  

These are Felix as close to the way I remember him.  He was always the same, right down to a kind word, an interest in your day, and a few laughs even if your joke was no good.  

Tea with a friend.

Yesterday I told you about pencils from friends.  Today I write of tea with a friend.   

      When my friend Janet brought me a pencil on Sunday she didn’t just bring a pencil, she brought me a bag of one of my other great loves, and that was a bag of tea.   

      Tea is on that great list of things that can make any situation more enjoyable.  Whether it is simply something to share over conversation, or you are sharing it with a buddy in a war torn foreign land, there is always a place for tea.  Janet brought me a bag of “Afghani Chai” from the Boston general store.  She also brought me a very beautiful wire tea strainer. 

      I am always deeply moved when my friends are happy to have found something that they think that I would enjoy because they know of my obsessions.  It makes me wish I was better at finding little things for people on my travels.  Then I realize that I do get to share with my friends.  When they come over they are promptly served the tea or coffee of their choice made by me.  If they take an interest in the pencils they are sent home with a couple of lovelies.  Even if they are paying for a bag of pencils from my travels I stick blackwings on top of it just because it is the best I have to give.  Tea can make any situation better, but the only thing that can make tea better is the company you drink it with.  I cannot wait to serve this to Janet.  

     When I make tea, like everything else, it has a process a ritual I enjoy following.  Sometimes if there is time I enjoy breaking out the moleskine notebook tea journal and using my poor skills to fully evaluate that tea.   

     Pencils from friends are the best, but the best tea is with friends.  My most memorable cups to date.

  1. Anytime my wife and I sit quietly with a cup.
  2. Sitting with Robert Penvose on our fob being served the local brew at an Iraqi cafe.
  3. The thermos full of tea on cold army mornings.
  4. Serving cups by the half dozen to my friends when it is my turn to host tabletop game night.  
  5. Tea with the boys on poker night, there is nothing Devon cannot appreciate.
  6. My grandmothers sweet tea every time I’m home.
  7. Recreating the Iraqi brew for a professor and classmates.
  8. My constant companion of the thermos accompanying my during my current adventure called college.

The list grows. Sit down with a friend, share a cup, and don’t forget to warm the pot. 

Hrolf the ganger.  

Pencils from friends.

I am finally getting around to this, I have a friend in France.  She is the daughter of part of the church family (not excluding her from it) and she has done amazingly well after college getting to teach English in France after college.  When she was setting off I had one request.  My request was a rather tall order to fill in my mind…”I would like some pencils from France please.”  

     After that the waiting begins, however her family visited over Christmas and hinted that they had a package for me!  Not only did she come through in fine fashion, but she got me the extra gift of a very nice little pencil bag made by Elba and a staedtler stick eraser to go with them.   

       The bag’s company I think is funny only to a history nerd…French pencil bag…made by Elba? Bwahahahahahahaha.  Anyhow, the bag has already supplanted my normal locking pencil case as part of my everyday kit.  It had a nice little note in it.   

       I was ridiculously eager to translate the bottom.  In fact I was so eager that as I sat down ralphie style to decode this my brain decided to let go of it’s crude grasp of most Latin based languages and I was actually surprised when I read the translation “a bag for your pencils.”  I still love it, I have not bothered to remove the tag, I believe I will keep it where it belongs.  I wanted to thank my friend again, and tell you to read her blog as well.  Kaitlinplachy.wordpress.com.  I love that some of them aren’t even French, what they are is popular.  These (I believe) are what the children and faculty of the school she teaches at use.  The Noris is the most popular European pencil my research shows.  What my friend did was not to simply find manufactures, but she stretched out her cultural feelers and found me cultural artifacts.  That is almost intoxicating in an anthropological way.

      I even showed how special these pencils were by giving one away.  I had six of the staedtler noris.  The day I got them one of my friends (Nicole) told me that she was unsarcastically enjoying my pencil blog.  She was rewarded with one of my favorite new things.

     As people learn of your love of great graphite they will begin to surprise you with pencils.  Today another woman at church surprised me with a French pencil, bought in Boston.  It is all black and made by La Compagnie Du Kraft.  Upon looking this unique object up, I now believe they don’t sel it, they included it with a special edition of a notebook, which makes it rarer.  

     I have decided that the best pencils are not the ones that you buy as expensive treats or have some rare feature.  The best pencils are pencils from friends who wanted to give you a smile for the day.  

When you look up the mountain…

I should be doing more homework right now, but I got it all done last week end, which you will see why that is impressive and I should not be worried now.  Ive gotten a good bit done tonight and now I want to sit down and do a couple of entries that I think have been a long time coming.  First lets hit the journal and then the rest will follow.


9-23-2015

We did it.  Keith and I joined the Spartan TriFecta tribe by completing the spartan beast at Killington, Vermont.  This is the birthplace of the beast and the medal says as much.  The first photo on the previous page is of Keith and I right before the race.

 Before this I had done spartan races already (two of them anyhow), and then I met Keith at the Natick Church of Christ.  I decided that this year I was going to get my trifecta so that I could get most of it done while school was out for the summer and before critter (child 2) gets here.  I invited some guys to come with me and Keith took me up on the offer.  He also said if he started this he was going to finish it.  He just wanted to go ahead and get the trifecta as well.  This is the kind of guy you need by your side in these kinds of messes.

 Three races later and the trifecta is in the bag.  Let us just be frank, for a guy who calls himself Hrolf the Ganger (Hrolf the big walker), the day on that mountain was one of the longest days of my life, and for a soldier that is saying something in my opinion.  Estimated 15-16 miles of mountainous hell, designed by Norm Koch (I now understand the patches that say effnorm).  I will not bother to hash out all the details about the water, and all the other stuff that made this race into a Stalingrad dumpster fire, if you were there then you know.

 What I will say is that I have never wanted to quit something so badly in my life.  At some points going up that mountain it got down to hiking for one minute and stopping for 3 or 4 to rub the cramps out of my legs.  Another fun thing is when you get to the top of a (loose) cargo net and suddenly your core decides to turn into one big cramp.  It was so tight, that may have been the best abs I’ve ever had…you know pain aside and it being a ball of contracted muscle.  I may have gotten my first successful spear throw here (yes on the little one.  still counts.  no burpees.)  None of this changes the fact that my marathon runner of a partner could have gone on faster without me.  He bested the herculean lift and sled pull this time which really nixes the parts of the race where I am a beneficial team member.  No matter how many times I told him to go on, go finish, he wouldn’t do it, even when we were facing cut offs, even when I was on the last big hill dry heaving with thirty minutes left and a mile to go he would not just go.  He is the best friend you could want on the mountain.

 I was able to chug on.  He and I kept to our normal pattern of helping people when we could.  There was a guy named Mike having a panic attack.  He had gotten really dehydrated and decided there was no way out of the woods and they that continued up hill forever as some kind of bizarre purgatory.   Medical wouldn’t get there in time to calm him down, so we got him sipping water and led him off the mountain literally by the hand.  When we got to the bottom, thankfully it was a water point, we had to give him the bad news that he was done.  We had to tell him he couldn’t go back out, he was dehydrated and the moment he saw another up hill in the woods it would all happen again (there was one not 500 feet after that water point) and there was still 3 miles of race to go.

 
To the point, Killington was filled with soul crushing.  I had accepted six hours before we finished that we were not going to make cut offs.  I was quite confident that given all the time we needed we could make the end of the course, but there wasn’t time.  However training kicked in, which really means imagine that you just can’t stop and go stupid for a while and keep moving.  Having a good buddy doesn’t hurt either.  Somehow we kept passing the cutoffs, sometimes within minutes.  In the end suddenly the fire jump was in sight and we crossed that finish line with twelve minutes left.  twelve minutes.  We were out there for twelve hours fourteen minutes.  There were 100 more after us.  We did it.  We left some things that needed to die out there on that mountain.  Katie was at the finish line, towel draped over her shoulders cheering us on.  She was a real trooper having to hang out and wait all day.  The mountain was ours.  I think I rediscovered some parts of myself that had lain dormant for a while.

 Moving on, while I was recovering I still needed to take some friends for exercise.  I took them Geocaching as that was about all I was up for.  This also gave me a chance to get a picture of Liam at the grave yard for the journal, he is at the graves of the Rice family, at Robin Hill cemetery.

 The third is simply a picture of him helping me with the garbage.  Seems dull I know, but this is what we do.  We help each other.  Garbage is one of his favorite things to help with.  He is currently very excited because Halloween decorations are already going up.

  
Halloween is one of our favorite holidays.  With a kid you have to split the movie festival into two portions.  The part the kid can watch, and the part that would classify as child abuse if you let them watch.  Casper is one of our staple movies.  It being twenty years old this year makes this a great moment to reflect about this movie.  I remember going to see this movie in theaters with my Grandmother Vicki.  I remember that pizza hut had a bunch of rubber glow in the dark puppets of the ghosts (I had casper).  Every year around this time I have to fight the urge to pile all this kind of crap up off of eBay.  I remember my buddy Danny Armstrong and I at the neighborhood pool discussing the bad words that were featured in Casper.  I remember my grandmother calling for showtimes in front of the sink of the cabin she and my grandfather lived at.  Not long after it came out I got the VHS and I’ve kept this movie close ever since.

 Reflection and making things to reflect upon is the point of this.  We need anchor points that we can share and call constant.

end.

There you have it.  This one is not very adventurous, but the life of a late comer college student and family man is not always exciting.  Homework, papers, repeat.  I may have beaten the mountain but it does not look like I will be able to beat remedial math. Tomorrow is several events which I am sure you will see all about.

Hrolf the Ganger

P.S. the halloween movie count stands as such.

Kid friendly: Hocus Pocus, Casper

With Carl: Halloween,2,4,5,6,H20

Alone: Scream,2

Halloween is coming…

9-16-2015

On Monday in preparation for the start of Halloween season in our house, which was officially September 15 in our house, Liam and I decided to complete a couple of initiatives.  We marked the event and decided to go outside for a while and hit up the playground, and to go geocaching.  Geocaching is a good time and it is a great outdoor activity.

This cache did have trinkets in it, so Liam took a small purple car, and in exchange we left a keychain compass.  The super fun part which made this an easy double check day, was that the geocache was located in Robin Hill cemetery! 

 The cemetery is small, but everything about the day was perfect.  The air was chilled just right and despite being September there were actually some leaves blowing around.  We managed some time at the playground, which we try to do as often as possible…more on that later. 

 Later on in the evening, my friends Devin, Jon, and Leo came over for a tradition that has almost been completely lost to Las Vegas style debauchery…poker night.  This was our first one, we try to have a game night every so often.  The boys were good enough to let Liam hang out and play with a small set of his own cards and some chips of a very large denomination that we were not using.

If you’ve never tried to have a game night or a poker night you and your friends should give it a try.  Throw your phone in a corner for the night, invite your friends to the table, and have a conversation and some genuine game time.  You will enjoy the sound of cards on cards and chips rattling without the risk of losing you home.  Side note: yes we decided to play Casino Royale in the back ground.

  Beverages for the night?  A combination of two of the best things in the world.  Tea and Whiskey.  Tea and Whiskey.  I do not need to say it again.  It was a great combo.  We weren’t mixing we were sipping both.  It made for a good night.  If you must know the tea was Black Dragon Pearl, the whiskey was Larceny Bourbon.

  Today Carl, Katie and I were able to start the Halloween movie festival for 2015.  First movie set is always the same.  We begin with Halloween.  We finished the second one as well.  Halloween is our first major celebration usually so let the games begin.  It can’t get much better than living in New England for the season.  I mean what better place to take a kid geocaching in an old cemetery, and let him play so you can grab some photos.  He was playing with the toy car he got out of the cache on the headstones.  I told him not to do that, and he looked at me and said “Daddy…they dead.” 

 Moral of the story.  Get some friends together for an analogue game night and unplug.  Start your adventure. 

   

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑