Ravenstone Castle Tuesday, Jul 31 2007 

Ravenstone Castle

31 July 2007

Day Twenty-eight at Bristol

For at least five years, we have talked with our fellow crafters Rose and Jose, about visiting their “castle” in Illinois.  We’ve seen photos over the years, as the hole in the field grew walls, the walls gained roofs, and the roofs developed crenellations.  We’ve followed this project as the interior was given structure, and eventually a kitchen and enough plumbing for them to actually move in.  And in the last two years or so, we’ve been tantalized with beautiful photos of a couple of the completed guest rooms—The Egyptian, the King Arthur, and the Queen Elizabeth—each with decor befitting its title.  So, this season, we decided we’d waited long enough to see this amazing undertaking.  We planned an afternoon visit, and picked a date.  Today was that date.

Although we wished for a couple of other girlfriends to join us, their lives intervened, and it was only Ginger and I that made the hour-long drive into the beautiful northern Illinois countryside to the little town of Harvard.  We passed enough antique stores that we could have easily been teased off our path, but when we arrived at Rose’s we were instantly glad we’d stayed the course.

We were greeted warmly by Rose and her daughter-in-law, Terry.  We were treated to the complete tour of this incredible place, and finally we were fed a delightful meal of Mexican enchiladas and a dessert of yummy carrot cake.  Only after much enjoyable conversation and a special view of Rose’s workshop, did we finally make our gracious exit.  I think if our work had not beckoned so loudly, we could have stayed for days!

Ravenstone Castle is already available for weddings, receptions and parties, and is the site of a number of annual events—craft shows, charity fund-raisers, etc.  And for next spring, there are rumours of a possible mini “renfaire” event!

Rose and Jose have done the lion’s share of the work in building this place themselves.  And all of the interior work has been done by them, and by their sons and families.  Woodworking by one son, tile work by another . . . antiques and architectural elements have been purchased from all over the world . . . a circular staircase made by hand.  Dreams are being made a reality.  And what we saw today is phase one—almost complete, but not quite—of three phases.  The second phase involves more guest rooms, a full ballroom, and a commercial grade kitchen.  Phase three includes a chapel!  Already, the impressive structure attracts curiosity seekers and photographers.  Imagine when they’re done!

~MB

Addendum: Summer 2008—

Ravenstone Castle is more complete every day.  Rose and Jose recently earned their accreditation as a bonafide Bed and Breakfast, and have events planned at least quarterly, such as Craft Faires, Teas, and other seasonal celebrations.  The castle address is: 4504 Route 23, Harvard, IL 60033.  Their phone numbers are 815.943.5764 or 262.736.9358.  They hope to have a website sometime in the near future!

Addendum:  Fall 2008—

The Ravenstone Castle website is live! 

And this is the link to an amazing television news story all about it!  Check it out!

The Wandmaker Monday, Jul 30 2007 

29 July 2007
Ok. So, I finished it. It took me longer than I wanted it to, but I finished the book on Saturday evening. It only felt right to use it as the subject for my photo.
The Wandmaker

I don’t expect that I can get in trouble for posting a photograph of a partial page; at least I hope I can’t. If I can, then there’s something hopelessly screwed up with our current copyright and fair-use system. But, I imagine most of us knew that anyway. The book, in and of itself, is a very good read; J.K. Rowling can pace a novel better than most of her contemporaries. But, she also manages to wrap up all the little story elements in a wonderful, beautifully wrapped package. If you’ve not read any of her Harry Potter books, perhaps you should. But, if you’re worried about your “indie cred” then perhaps you can wait for her next book. No, it won’t be a Harry Potter book, but she has stated that the is already working on two new novels. Why rest on her billions when she can continue to do what she loves: write.
Cheers.

~KR (29 July 2007)

Listening to:
Xanadu by Olivia Newton John
on Hits From 1980

All Day I Dream About Soccer Monday, Jul 30 2007 

28 July 2007 Not only do I watch, but I play as well! Adidas

Saturday mornings are made for football so says the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical The Beautiful Game, and I couldn’t agree more. So, on Saturday mornings, I drag myself out of bed and to a municipal park where I practice with my mates (when they can be arsed to get out of bed themselves). While squatting on my Arsenal towel pulling on my boots, I noticed the colour combination made by the ball-meets-sky-meets-grass junction. Luckily I had my camera with me. From training I went to grab a pint and made plans with the bartender to hit a movie that night. So a few hours later, after a nice nap and a shower, I went back to the bar to pick up Joey so we could go see The Simpsons. If you were ever a fan of the TV show, treat yourself to an hour and a half long episode. Quite fun, really.
Cheers.

~KR (28 July 2007)

Listening to: Bang Bang by Audio Bullies
on Shut Me Down

The Gunners – 2004 Home Strip Monday, Jul 30 2007 

27 July 2007 It’s that time of year, when football’s in the air. Here in America, both the College teams and the professional teams are gearing up while Arena football has made it’s graceful exit. In Europe, the heat is getting on with the English Premier League soon to start with the first matches being played on 11 August. My team, the Arsenal who’s 2004 strip is proudly photographed here The Arsenal 2004 Home Strip begin their season on 12 August in right proper fashion; a derby game against Fulham at Ashburton Grove. Only a few days remain until all the speculation, gossip, rumours & nerves have paid put to them and we find out just who really is ready for the new season. I just can’t wait.
Cheers.

~KR (27 July 2007)

Listening to: Thru by Kings of Tomorrow
on Shut Me Down

Mondays go High Tech Monday, Jul 30 2007 

Mondays go High Tech

30 July 2007

Day Twenty-seven at Bristol

I don’t usually do my KRuMB post this early in the day.  After all, we like for The Daily KRuMB to be indicative of . . . our day!  So, who knows what each day will bring, right?  I like to wait until the day is drawing to a close to create my new post.  Kyle generally waits until the day after for the same reason.

But, today, I am confident that NOTHING could surpass this as the defining aspect of my day!

After thirteen years on the road—almost to the day—my Mondays have gone high tech!  For thirteen years, Monday morning meant finishing up my “numbers” and inventory and faxing those pages to Jim and Nicole in California.  During Scarborough Renaissance Festival when we’re home every Sunday night, that’s not a problem at all.  But, at any show on the road, it becomes the primary focus of every Monday morning, to find and travel to a working fax machine as quickly as possible.  Sometimes the office supply store or other random small business with this capability is many miles from the faire site.  So, often it is midday before the weekend’s work is actually complete.

This year, with my daily commitment to the KRuMB, Kyle and I splurged and bought for me, a wireless internet device that allows me to check my email and be online from my little wooden box at faire.  This has been a truly wonderful, liberating thing—not to have to drive ten or more miles to a WiFi spot, and hope that all worked properly just to look at the internet.  In the early days of email for me, it even involved public libraries and attempting to prove residency and  . . . the hoops we jumped through were tiring at best.  I love my little wireless thingy.

The internet card can be seen in this silly photo, at the right side of my computer—it plugs into my USB port.  And on the screen of the computer is part of one of our three inventory pages.

So, now, as of today, I am using the technology at hand to its fullest advantage.  After much encouragement throughout the past, from Nicole and Jim and Kyle, I sat here in my little living space above the booth, and with the help of forms from Jim, and a little experimentation (and advice from Kyle)with Excel, I have emailed my “paperwork” to California!  I am so excited, it’s stupid!  I cannot believe it took me this long—we’re four weekends into this faire—to get my little act in gear on this, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never look back!

Thanks Jim.  Thanks Nicole.  Thanks Kyle.  Woo Hoo!

~MB

Cemetary on H Sunday, Jul 29 2007 

Cemetary on H

29 July 2007

Day Twenty-six at Bristol

Another weekend is over.  Although the weather is good and the crowds are fairly large, the sales still disappoint.  I am hoping that this is simply a year when the “new” festival ownership is advertising to a new crowd, and that the next couple of years will show a growth curve.  In the meantime, we just do our best to keep our spirits up and serve our customers as well as we know how.

Our little group of friends had dinner tonight at the local Applebee’s.  I rode with Kat to the restaurant, and she chose a route that was far less familiar to me than our usual paths.  We drove up Highway H into Kenosha, which took us through farmland and such.  At one point, I spied a huge contraption working in a field and was quite interested in it.  It was surely some sort of harvesting equipment—it had two long, hinged and articulated arms, made of some sort of metal framework.  The ends of the arms were moving completely independently of the rest of the machine and of each other.  A few yards down the road, after talking about it for a moment, and wondering what it really was, I mentioned to Kat that had I been by myself, I’d have probably turned around and pulled over to get a better look.  In fact, I told her, I’d take a photo of it.  At which point, she asked me if I wanted her to turn around.  I thought about it for a moment, and decided “yes, I did!”  So, turn around she did, and we drove back to where we’d seen this thing . . . and we drove  . . . finally, we knew we’d driven too far, turned around again, and then, ultimately had to admit—the thing was gone!  How the heck it disappeared so quickly, I cannot even fathom!  But, gone it was, and along with it, the opportunity for that photo.

Fortunately, not far down the road was this sweet little cemetary, so Kat, not wanting me to miss another opportunity, pulled over for me to take photos.  This one, is the first that I took!  The flash fired, and I took another half a dozen shots with no flash, expecting them to all be better than the first one.  Not so much!  This one shows the mood of the hour, and the contrast and clarity is much better.  The others are more washed out, and a little blurry and grainy from the low light.  So, go figure!

~MB

Dinner at Uno’s Saturday, Jul 28 2007 

Dinner at Uno's

28 July 2007

Day Twenty-five at Bristol

A warm, muggy, but fairly busy day at faire—not great, but not awful.  At day’s end, though, air-conditioning and food are a welcome idea!  We all trekked to Gurnee tonight, to Uno’s.  I took a bunch of photos of the gang—-it took a while for everyone to ignore me!  Not the best photo, but fun.

I’ve officially started reading Book 7 of the Harry Potter library.  I had aspirations of staying up very late and reading much of it, but as it turns out, I’m more tired than I’d realized.  As soon as the noise at the Pig and Whistle is over (it’s karaoke night!) I’m afraid I’m done, too!

~MB

. . . and I helped! Friday, Jul 27 2007 

. . . and I helped!

27 July 2007

Day Twenty-four at Bristol

With apologies to the Shake and Bake commercials of the 1970s.

This is a photo of the ten tumblers that I was fortunate enough to have helped to make this week!   Within this batch of beautiful handmade art glass, is represented, my very first punte work!  I simply cannot get over just how proud I am.  Thanks for bearing with me.

In the background can be seen, Shannon and her Monday/Friday apprentice Tony, working on goblets.  The goblets I watched them make today, are in the new category, Bengal Tiger! An experiment from earlier in the week, these art pieces come out striped and striated, in the colours of the animal for which they are named!  Absolutely amazing!  I fell in love at first sight, but there was only one.  Now, there are more!   Later today, Shannon told me she made quite a few, so I will be sure to go over early in the morning and choose my favourite! 

And, on into another weekend . . .

~MB

Looking Up Friday, Jul 27 2007 

26 July 2007
Recently I read somewhere that there are two types of people in the world. There are “Rounders” and there are “Aggregators.” I don’t recall where I read the article, so I can’t give proper credit, sadly; but the concept is so very simple. Everyone has problems, it’s how you deal with those problems that define what type of person you are. If you look at a small problem and say, “nah, that’s a tiny problem, no worries mate,” then you are a “Rounder.” If however, you look at that same problem and say to yourself, “great, just what I need another problem to screw up my life,” then you are definitely an “Aggregator.” I’ve always been an “Aggregator.” My wife is a “Rounder.” I, too, will be a “Rounder” someday, for it seems to me a much happier, healthier way to live. I laid all this out, because she and I had a row (what the hell’s a row?) on the 26th about calories. She mentioned something about caloric intake and I, in typical “Aggregator” fashion, turned it into a much bigger problem than it was. Much bigger. It bothered me all day long that I had reacted to such a simple issue in such an irrational manner. So as I was sitting in a fast-food line on my way home, I took this photo:
Looking Up
…and I thought, “wow, that was a tiny problem and I turned it into something huge. I shouldn’t do that. And I really should watch my caloric intake.” I left the fast-food line and went home where I had a practically tasteless, but low in calories, Healthy Choice meal. Not quite sure why “healthy food” has to equate to “yucky food” but I suppose it does. And since I’d rather be here to celebrate my 50th anniversary with my wife (our 12th is a week from this upcoming Sunday), I suppose “yucky food” is it.
Cheers.

~KR (26 July 2007)

Listening to:
Was it Worth It? by Pet Shop Boys
on Discography: The Complete Singles Collection

Dinner on Park Avenue Thursday, Jul 26 2007 

Dinner on Park Avenue

26 July 2007

Day Twenty-three at Bristol

Thunderstorms last night (wonderful sleeping weather!) made for a later than planned start to the work in the glass studio this morning.  But, once we got going, we rocked!  I began my day by learning to use the grinder on the marver table.  The marver table is a large, very heavy steel table (in Renaissance times it would have been a marble slab) used as a work surface for picking up colour, and shaping the molten glass into the tubular shape needed before a bubble of air can be blown into it.  In a rainstorm, in a renfaire setting, the studio gets wet around the edges, and the marver table rusts!  So, as the apprentice today, I got to bring the table up to snuff, as it were.  My arms vibrated for nearly an hour after I was done! 

Shannon made tumblers today—and I helped on the first two or three just like always—preparing pipes, setting out colour, paddling, and torching the piece just before it gets put away.  But, then, I got a great surprise—the gaffer decided it was time for me to learn to punte!  I was honoured and delighted, because she is fully capable of  doing her own punte work on smaller pieces like tumblers.  That’s what we’d been doing on the first few items.  So, I was very excited, and a little nervous.

The punte (pun-tee) is the little knob of glass that is used to transfer the piece from one pipe to another.  It is a huge responsibility, really, because here is a mostly finished, beautiful piece of art glass, being made by a master, and then, in the punte-ing process, that piece—at least temporarily—is in the hands of the apprentice!  First, I practiced the process of gathering and marvering the punte itself, and presenting it to her, and got that “hands on” perspective that merely watching it be done dozens of times doesn’t do for you.  After I’d done that a few times, she decided I was ready, and I punte-ed every piece we did after that!  No issues; no problems; only one needed a reheat;  everything ended up in the box and beautiful!  Okay . . . yes . . . I’m a little bit proud.

Some time in the workshop, but of course not enough, this afternoon, and then off to Racine for dinner at Kelly and Joseph’s house.  They had prepared a marvelous dinner for seven—the six in the photo, and me!  We were all set to dine al fresco, when the rain began again, so we quickly and easily moved everything into the dining room. The dinner and the company couldn’t have been better!  The same cannot be said for my photo, but I wanted to use this photo as my photo of the day, darnit.   So, here it is—grainy and dark, but six of my favourite smiling faces in the world.  Kyle at least got to talk to the group by phone, and give Joseph one last birthday song—he was sorely missed by all—especially me!

And incidentally—-I found my cell phone, safe and sound when I got home this evening!

~MB

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