Special Effects, Cattails and Other Happy Memories

Posted on November 11, 2012. Filed under: Cancer |

I’m overdue for an update, so I thought I’d cover the highlights of the past couple weeks in two posts. I’ll start with last weekend, before the bag o’ meds. And, since the date is no longer as relevant as a title, I’m scrapping dates in titles to save myself from rubbing my nose in my own tardiness.

Last weekend, since Scott and I were invited to a friend’s annual “Special Effects” party in Elgin, we decided to make a weekend of it and stay in a hotel there. (We are SO overdue for a getaway!!!!)

We chose to stay at the Country Inn off the highway for the pool, free breakfast, internet access etc., etc. But first we explored downtown Elgin and wound up at the Elgin History Museum. It was in an old mansion. Two very old women came out of the woodwork at the sound of the front door opening. They looked like something out of a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel and took very tiny slow steps. They saw so little traffic, they admitted that they’d forgotten how to print us a $3 receipt for our admission, yet insisted we hang in there until the two nailed it. The museum showed a huge obligatory tribute to Elgin watches on the second floor complete with ads from the 60s. The display explained that the advent of battery watches brought the company to a dismal end. Apparently, a scout’s headquarters was in the area because the organization was well-represented. When we headed out the door, the two, dare I say docents, gathered up their newsletters and other flyers to make sure we had all the info we’d ever need. Before we headed for the party, we also went to Jimmy’s Steakhouse and split a steak dinner. Fun.

Now for the special effects party…Our Elgin friends, who are more famous for their salon gatherings than the annual special effects party, are no strangers to the strange and they have about an acre of land to be strange on. With their ingenuity, and that of their other friends, cool things happen. There are always thrift store microwaves to load with an array of items not traditionally thought of as microwaveable. This means blowing up marshmallow peeps, glow sticks, Ivory soap, eggs and various other household items though not together. Most of the time, the door will blow open if you wait long enough. Sometimes, flames are involved. Sometimes, five-foot high flames wisp into the night sky, which is why the microwaves are lined up in the yard.

Then there’s the bomb fire. In an ode to summer, much of it was made out of eight-foot sunflower stalks, and it was about six feet wide. When you surround it with box fans positioned at an angle, the flames are pushed into a hurricane shape. Very cool. The night is usually crowned with sky lanterns lit by 30 people in rapid succession, so the lanterns leave a trail across the sky. It’s breathtaking. In between these events you may find everything from shadow puppets to lasers.

On Sunday, a hike in a forest preserve was on the agenda, so we asked the big guy at the desk who looked outdoorsy where we might find a nice trail. He directed us slightly west, which turned out to be a beautiful area. I can’t remember the last time I saw cattails! This was my last day before starting the meds so I wanted to push myself as much as possible because I didn’t know how crappy I might feel later. We walked a few miles on the trail before I pooped out.

On the return route we also ventured  to IKEA in search of the perfect sofa. They had a few options, but none topped one of my previous discoveries. This detour was more about leaving no sofa possibility unturned than it was about shopping at IKEA, so given the density of the Sunday afternoon crowd, it soon became annoying, although I enjoyed encountering into a former client and current friend who was also braving the retail odyssey.

All in all, it was great just to see something different—and we returned in time for me to take a little rest before going to the poetry slam.


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2 Responses to “Special Effects, Cattails and Other Happy Memories”

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So you go on another med dump while I’m at last free of wedding and election? Timing sucks! Let me know if I can help and do give me a call when you’re headed to the slams, now that my life is again my own.

BTW, don’t you think you could have fit just a wee little bit more into that weekend?

What a fun weekend !
You do more in a weekend than I do in a . . . week? . . .

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    A writer and cancer survivor chronicles her renewed dedication to art and words..


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