Philadelphia Tattoo Convention 2009

The DeGrace fam went to the Philly Tattoo Convention today. It was at the Sheraton in Philly, right around the corner from the Convention Center. It took us a couple trips around the block to find the entrance to the parking garage across the street from the Sheraton - but it was worth the trips because the whole day of parking was only $5! This was the first convention for both myself and Asher; Mike has been to three before, in Reading, Philly and Columbus OH. We walked into the hotel past the 'smoking area', about 50 or so people outside in the cold air shivering, laughing, smoking and sporting a variety of piercings and hairstyles and tattoos.

It cost $20 each to get in but Asher was free. We arrived at about 2:30pm and the festivities were going on from about noon to midnight, I believe. Mike had Asher in the carrier the whole day and he was quite an attraction to the convention-goers. We had so many people tell us that he was the most adorable kid they ever saw. Of course we agreed because they were telling the truth. There were also several people that commented that his carrier was definitely the way to go and they wished they had one as well. Asher started waving in the past two weeks or so and he was enjoying waving to everyone all day long. It didn't matter what they looked like, how old they were or whether they were male or female. He was just happy to wave and get a response. He was also trying to touch everyone around him and Mike had to hold his hands pretty much the entire time so he didn't sneak out and pull someone's hair. He is our happy little handful. We were there until 5:30pm and he did great. I fed him once and even with me sitting on the ground with him on my lap to give him a bottle and everyone walking all around us he wasn't startled or scared at all. What an amazing boy!

I got to see Rod from Dexterity Tattoo on Manor Street in Lancaster. It was good to see him again, I haven't seen him since right after me and Mike got back from our honeymoon. Rod started my sleeve and I'm really looking forward to going back to him again. I completed the portion of what I have now right before we got married and planned on getting started right away once we got back but then I found out I was pregnant so had to wait. Since I stopped breastfeeding about 3 months ago I'm in the clear to start getting ink again and I'm really jonesing for it now, especially after going to the convention. Anyway, I plan on having Rod work on my arm some more. I also saw Kim Saigh and Guy Aitchison; they were both set up on a dais along with two other artists. They were all working on oil paintings. Kim's canvas had a very detailed set of dragons hatching and Guy was doing an organic piece that had amazing depth. I love watching artists do their thing. Mike wants to have Guy do a half suit on him and start off with one of the 3D ultrasound shots of Asher and build around it in his style. That should turn out great, I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out and he hasn't even tried making any appointment yet.

Later in the evening they were doing suspension which we were both really interested in seeing but it was too late and we needed to get home with the doodles. I definitely would have enjoyed that though. Must be the sadist in me. We saw our friends Brittany and Travis while we were there, it was good to see them again. I don't think I've seen them since Asher was maybe a month old. It's pretty strange when you live so close to people and then run into each other in Philly. A couple of our other friends were planning on going to the convention, Switz and Jess, but they actually got there right when we were leaving.

Now. We are home. And exhausted. We've both got comfy clothes on now, are posted up in front of the TV, Asher is in bed and Mike's just waiting on me to finish up this blog so he can hit 'play' on RockandRolla. Time for a relaxing Saturday night.


Pre-Dawn Thoughts

I was awake at 4:30 this morning listening to some lil man over in his room being  a jabberjaw.  Two guesses who that was.  I don't know what he was talking about or who he was talking to but he had a lot to say, and there were many squeals and gurglings punctuating his 'words'.  I finally got him to go back to sleep for an hour before he woke up again.  I decided to feed him, it was 5:30 and that's an ok time for the first meal of the day.  Every morning when I give him a bottle I think of the hobbits in Lord of the Ring and all the meals they'd eat every day.  They had first and second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, and so on.  He's my little hairless hobbit.  

Anyway.  So I'm sitting in his dark room, rocking back and forth on our cream glider and my thoughts start to wander, as they often do.  I hear the wind has really picked up again and this gets me to thinking about how awful it would be if we lose siding (thank you, Andrea, for implanting that thought).  We've already lost a gate from the wind a couple weeks ago.  Why does it always feel that you're losing some sort of battle when you own a home?  Then I started hearing creaks and groans through the house - from the wind, of course.  But this got me thinking zombies.  

I'm truly terrified of zombies and I'm certain they'll exist someday and I'll have to fend for myself because I might be the only real human left.  I sat in the rocking chair doing one of those things that I do best in quiet moments.  I created different scenarios in my head of zombie attacks on the house and how we best could handle it.  In today's version, they were surrounding the house so we grabbed some garbage bags and threw in jugs of water, baby food, formula, bottles, crackers, and other random foodstuff that we could sweep into the bags in such a pinch.  Then we ran up to the second floor and destroyed the staircase.  I'm not sure how we did that but it happened.  We must have somehow had some explosives in the house; I'm not sure where they came from.  Manna from heaven.  Once on the second floor we grabbed diapers and wipes and headed straight for the attic.  Then we destroyed that staircase as well.  We could hear the wheezy moans of countless zombies below us but we were safe now.  There was food, water and we had each other.  I'm always the hero in my own zombie story.  

By the time I saved us from the zombies, Asher was done eating.  I burped him and got up to change his diaper.  I checked behind my shoulder a couple times (for curiosity sake, not because I was scared or anything), put his sleeper back on, kissed him on the forehead and laid him back down.  I walked back over to bed, laid myself back down, closed my eyes and feel right asleep.  Then I dreamt of porcelain chickens, six bottles of Sriracha and an old English manor house.  


my imagination is too active.


When The Levees Broke

Last night we watched Act I and Act II of When The Levees Broke, a documentary by Spike Lee on Hurricane Katrina and the Federal response (or lack thereof) to New Orleans in its aftermath.  It is the most disturbing movie I ever watched.  My emotions ranged from shock at how the same levees that were breached twice before were never repaired, to grief at seeing bodies left in the water or under blankets while their loved ones painfully searched for their own salvation, to rage at how poorly the entire situation was handled by the federal government before, during and after the storm struck.   There were interviews with a wide range of individuals, from survivors to the mayor of New Orleans to residents of the city that were able to evacuate.

This storm hit home hard for me since it hit within a month of when I moved back to PA from Key West.  I was through three hurricanes while living in the Keys but none of them were over a Category 2; the winds and water I experienced were tame in comparison to Katrina's.  Those of us that were crazy enough to stay in town for the hurricanes after the mandatory evacuations were posted would have 'hurricane parties' as the storm was closing in on us.  We played it off just as another excuse to party but it was largely a cover to drink a lot so we were able to sleep through the maddening sound of wind tearing at the roof and siding and the thought that your end may be imminent.  I didn't necessarily choose to stay for the hurricanes but I did not have any vehicle and no spare cash and no credit card.  There is no way I could rent a car, drive to wherever safety was, rent a hotel room for several nights and pay for three meals a day out.  I already was losing up to a week of work that I wasn't getting paid for.  I really felt so horrible for the individuals that could not afford to leave New Orleans (despite the mandatory evacuation) and then didn't receive necessary food and water and medical care for over 5 days.  I've been there; the only difference was that I was not through Katrina.  This is America.  There is no excuse.  

I am still disgusted and still disturbed and still thinking about all the images I saw last night.  This is a film that everyone should watch.  We need to be aware of what happened so history does not just get forgotten and brushed under the carpet.  If honest citizens don't stand up and educate themselves on current events then the dishonest will simply rewrite our own history while we stand with our heads stuck in the sand.  It's so important to always learn, always talk, and always keep an open mind.  Go watch it.  


Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farms

I don't know about anyone else but I'm ready to celebrate Spring.  I'm looking forward to the Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farms in Glen Rock, PA to help me bring in the new season of birth.  It will be on May 1-3 and is great green fun for the whole family.  This festival is in keeping with the ancient celebration of May Day, held on May 1 or Beltane.  There will be food, entertainment, tea parties with fairies, and a maypole (of course).  Spring will hopefully be sprung sooner rather than later.

He'd love to just wait in the cab ...

A 20-something man sits in a taxi in front of his parents' house, trying to find the strength to tell them that he has experienced quite the life-changing event.  He lingers in the stale cigarette-tasting air, his hands planted thoughtfully on either side of his worn denim jeans on a hard vinyl seat filled with crumbs and sticky substances that under normal conditions would have made him gag with disgust and reach for his antibacterial gel.  He absently peeked over at the woman beside him.  She smiled a nervous and thin smile, pulled his one weak hand up and clutched it tightly within her own.  Anxiety vibrated in the air between them.  On the second finger of her left hand a 2-carat princess cut diamond solitaire sparkled coldly in the darkened cab whenever the streetlamp above got trapped inside its fathomless crystal depths.  He squeezed her hands tightly back, determination finally steeling him to open his cab door and step out into the brisk suburban night.  He knew the neighbors were watching behind old and yellowed lace curtains; they had been sitting here for nearly 5 minutes now.  Tongues were wagging.  Phones were nearby in case there was a sudden need to phone the Police.  One could never be too careful.  Fortunately for the nosy neighbors, this man was not here for any dirty deeds involving them; rather, he was here to confess his own dirty deed to his parents.  He had finally arrived at their doorstep to introduce them to his new wife.  They hadn't even known he was seeing anyone.  To be honest, he hadn't expected this sudden elopement himself.  They had taken a vacation to Lancaster, PA and the Amish country was just so full of charm and romance and good breweries that one thing led to another and they just couldn't help themselves.  What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas but what happens in Lancaster must be brought back to Mom and Dad.  He sighed.  He didn't regret their rash and impulsive decision but his parents were going to be devastated.  He had stolen the joy from them being able to be a part of their only child's wedding.  Might as well get this over with.  He crossed over to the other side of the taxi and opened his wife's door (wife, odd as that sounds to say).  They slowly walked towards the front door.  The porch light was off.  There was a thin crust of freshly fallen snow on the ground and they left a double set of footprints up the walkway.  He slipped once but caught himself before he went the entire way down.  Cursing under his breath he wondered if this evening could get any more uncomfortable.  He was tired of prolonging the agony of the inevitable.  He rang the doorbell.  Waited.  Nothing.  He rang it again and knocked on the door for good measure.  Still nothing.  A cold sweat broke out on his neck and a small part of his brain registered amazement that he could sweat in this frigid weather.  Then he noticed a note on the door.  He pulled it off, leaving some tape and one corner of the paper on the entrance.  He squinted in the dark and struggled to read the following:  Darling, We have decided to take a spontaneous vacation to escape this winter.  You know how your father's bones ache so in the cold.  We're away, in the Pacific, on a boat.  We'll be back in the Spring.  You can't reach us, we're blissfully unable to make contact with the outside world.  I do hope you are not cross with us; please don't worry, we will be fine.  If you do need anything in the house, use your key.  If there are any problems, talk to Mrs. Gitchum next door, she'll be caring for the house while we're away.  Most of all, dear, I love you.  See you in a few months though I can't give you an exact date.  I hope you don't do anything crazy while we're gone, like get married!  This thought makes me chuckle, I know my son would never do anything like this to his parents.  The wild imagination of an aging woman, eh?  Hugs and Kisses, Mother.