It’s already late, Friday-night almost midnight late. It is three months late; already two Festivals later – late. This may be my personal best – or worst – for starting a journal late. I’m sitting in black Hello-kitty pajamas parked at the former landfill that is the campground of the Louisiana Renaissance Festival. I’m clothed because Heather’s “sister” Dakota is staying with us for a bit and she’s demanded a strict “No Nudity” policy. Five days ago the deadline for my third missed journal came-and-went; I’m going to try to knock out all three this weekend. There is a scary movie about possession playing on the TV, Dakota may already be asleep behind me and Heather is crafting jewelry and garlands as we slog through this movie full of “meh”. Let me now set the “way-back” machine to the 25th of September: The Minnesota Renaissance Festival, and autumn rapidly approaching…
I had no idea I was prescient – but even Sylvia Brown could have gotten that one right. I mentioned in the last journal that Heather was commuting from our home parked in the trailer park southwest of the Twin cities to both Bristol – between Chicago and Milwaukee and the Festival in Kansas City. She managed to be home four days a week; more or less. The travel and separation was a huge pain-in-the-ass. I had Scarlett on the weekends sometimes transporting her from the quarry parking lot to the Festival in our overloaded wagon. Minnesota was spectacular as always. We had some of the best weather and the best attendance in my memory. The shows were great, the fans were superb, the red-tape was silly but the gypsy babes who we sat with each morning meeting made everything a lot more pleasant. We drank, we finished the Xmas show. Jef had his birthday party and not only were we the well-paid entertainment at another wedding reception but your humble author wrote and officiated the ceremony. WOW! Surprisingly I LOVED officiating the wedding and we plan on doing it a lot more in the future; it’s gonna be a new service we offer.
Let’s see: I only managed one kayak trip – and not the one that involved the three locks on the Mississippi. We ended-up stranded for twenty minutes trying to figure out a safe route around a waterfall produced by the drought lowered river. In social news: We managed to eat at Suzette’s only once but it was divine. I missed the opening of a friend’s art show because of an unplanned emergency trip to Louisiana – more on that in a bit. But I did manage at least one really fun shooting trip with Byron, his brother-in-law and my very conservative, much-vilified on Facebook friend Dennis. I love being a gun-toting liberal. I LOVE the fact that I’m pretty darned good with a gun in my hands . I love my rifle, I’m amused by the giant “Judge” pistol at the store – a gun I would never own. Shooting was a hoot. I also got to do something else I genuinely enjoyed: I was interviewed for an up-and-coming skeptical talk show podcast called Geeks Without God. As it turns out I was interviewed three times for just two episodes. The first recording got accidentally erased and we had to go back re-record and re-create it. I really enjoyed myself, the interview and the show in general. I meant what I told them: If I lived in the area I would force my way into becoming a regular on that show.
I’m from Florida, and Jef still owns a house there. My mom and my nieces all live in New Orleans. My Mom’s house in Pensacola got wiped-out by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and you can read in my old 2005 journals not only how my family and friends were affected by Katrina but how, in-the-end that storm turned out to be surprisingly beneficial for the Louisiana Renaissance Festival. As I write this my Sisters in New Jersey have almost completely recovered from that wimp Hurricane Sandy’s category one winds… but it’s possible that the paradise of my childhood memories The Boardwalk of Seaside Heights may be gone for good. It is comforting to think that each year we’re going to be unaffected by any Atlantic storm in the land of “Ya Sure You-Betcha” – and normally that’s just how it works out. But we have a lot of business ventures at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival. We became immediately flummoxed when nothing-sized-Hurricane-of-little-note Isaac, weakened some levies in Mississippi, which in turn required that they open some flood-control gates on the Ponchatoula river and FLOODED OUT THE FUCKING RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL DOWNSTREAM!!! We watched Facebook religiously as photos and reports crept in showing the water rising; first dampening then all-but totally submerging my maze, our dart game and even to a lesser extent our dungeon. The walls of the maze are over eight feet tall and the water came within six inches of the top. It was a scary time, since we count on these attractions to not only employ our crew; the people who depend upon us for livelihood – but also, really to feed us and keep us off the streets in the winter.
There was a huge outpouring of concern and cash for relief efforts after the water began to recede. We’re fortunate in that it the water left almost as rapidly as it came in. The festival not only opened and surveyed each booth and structure but with the help of hundreds of volunteers they cleaned, salvaged, and treated for the pervasive mold that sprang up. The flooding was short lived and the damage was surprisingly minimal; a fact I got to verify with my own eyes as I was called to fly down to New Orleans for a far more frightening and personal reason. Some folks at the faire lost their livelihood. Many others just lost stuff. The maze and other outbuildings were largely unscathed other than some loss of stored lumber and some employee’s personal belongings. The water in the dungeon never got above knee high – and the greatest loss was all the soil and rock that washed away from the dirt floor interior as the water left the building. It was almost funny seeing all the dungeon fixtures and other detritus piled in a corner by the outflowing water.
The real reason I went to Louisiana was to be present for my mother’s unexpected brain surgery! She’d gone in to have a circulation issue in her neck looked at and the doctors determined that she had the ticking time-bomb that is an un-burst aneurysm in her head. In the end, though the doctors first attempted to use the “catheter and coil” repair method; they were forced to open up my Mom’s skull, peel back her face and repair the TWO aneurysms they discovered there. Our whole extended family was in the waiting room and I slept in a chair besides mom’s bed that first night. The best thing about being so late with this journal is that I can report that though initially there were a few complications and deficits due to an un-sutured bleed in my mom’s skull putting pressure on her brain; she is now completely mended other than a pretty wicked scar hidden by her hair. Whew.
Heather was actually present for the final three weekends of the Minnesota show – which brightened my outlook considerably. We secured the hall and the video crew for our Xmas show’s production and began finalizing the script. The Blue Team was kicking ass in Minnesota’s sister-show in Holly Michigan and the rose business we acquired as part of their deal was reaping in the cash. Heather’s fashion company was doing well, and doing even better now that she had returned to the shop personally. We not only had a marvelous time with our awesome fans at the Minnesota Meet and Greet but the bowling alley asked us to sign one of the celebrity pins! With the final weekend came two ridiculously huge shows. Crazy. That really is the best way to describe the r-rated show and our fans in Minnesota: Magically, wonderfully, beautifully Crazy. I guess the only fly in our chardonnay was the ridiculous idea to put in a new gate – and have it go right through our crowd. Even that – we made work just fine.
It’s now Saturday morning December first. I have already been to the Louisiana Festival’s morning meeting, had my first cup of coffee and can now end this journal and immediate begin October’s offering. Why don’t you hurry up and get on over to read it? What are you waiting for? go find out about Halloween, another trip to Louisiana and the historic addition of the newest Tortuga.
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