The Creatures of my Trip

I also brought along my bug lens and my bird lens with me while I was on my trip!  I was glad I brought the bug lens, because I really did not find too many birds, but got some shots of interesting and cool bugs!  I found a few spiders, too, and got my first ever close up shot of a jumping spider’s eyes.  I’ve been wanting to get a shot like that for a long time, but I never can find jumping spiders!!

If you have ever seen a jumping spider, they are extremely small- about the size of the tip of your index finger.  I was so thrilled to get one close up and get his eyes!  So cute!!!




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The Great Adventure Part III : Branson

After Dragon*Con, I was still on a sort of a surreal high that I even went (I mean… like a month after… LOL!).

The day I left the Marriott Marquis and downtown Atlanta behind for another year was a sad day.  But,believe me, I’m already thinking about Dragon*Con 2017, eagerly awaiting the chance at getting a (nearly impossible) room at the Marriott, and planning out costumes in addition to the Predator for next year.

At any rate, I was not ready to end my trek through the American south juuuuust quite yet.  A few other things on my bucket list included seeing Branson, Missouri and visiting the Titanic museum.  So, with Dragon*Con (sadly) behind me, I hopped in the car and took the scenic route from Atlanta to Branson.  I spent the night in Memphis (no, I did NOT go walking in Memphis, and I totally meant to.  Dammit).

On my way out of Memphis, I discovered that Bass Pro Shops owns a pyramid.  Who knew, right?  And by the way – Bass Pro Shops are apparently as common in TN as Waffle Houses are in Georgia and Dollar Stores and Kentucky Fried Chickens are in Kentucky.  Oh, and if you are ever wondering, I do believe that the state roadkill for the entire south is armadillos.  I’ll be damned if I saw a living one at all during my stay (and I tried… I really tried), but roadkill armadillos?  Every ten feet.  Seriously.


And then, the following day, I discovered the most beautiful place in America:


Yep.  Who knew.  Arkansas is freaking amazing.  I’m sure it’s hot as could be in the summer, but the day I drove through it was 80 and clear skies and my eyeballs got treated to mountainous scenery as far as they could see in every direction.  Needless to say, I took multiple scenic routes and ended up spending about 4 hours just driving around Arkansas alone.  It was beautiful.

Eventually, I made it to my destination!

Photos were not allowed in the museum, but believe me, if you ever go to Branson, it’s worth the $20 admission or whatever it cost to see this.  This was AMAZING.  There were real artifacts, and letters written by passengers and survivors, and the only photographs of the Titanic to exist all on display, not to mention a full-size replica of the top tier of the grand staircase, and many other full size replicas.  The museum was loaded with factual information, interesting documentaries, fascinating expedition photos, and of course memorabilia and a gift shop.  I bought a T-shirt and a magnet🙂

Yes, I am soooooo glad I did this.  I’ve always loved stories about the Titanic long before “The Movie” came out (you know that isn’t the only Titanic movie to ever have been made, right?).  This was just so cool to visit, and I definitely list Branson, MO as a recommended place to see.  I’ll go back in a second if I have the opportunity.


Branson really reminded me of a small-scale of Las Vegas (another place I would love to go back to again).  It wasn’t quite as “glitzy” with a ton of lights, but it was basically a touristy town set up on a strip and loaded with shows, theaters, restaurants, and all the tourist-stop attractions you could want.


They even had a giant King Kong and Transformer.  I mean… cool!


And, they take their stop signs seriously in Branson.  Really seriously.


I did a little cruising around at night when the lights on the “Branson strip” came up.


In the morning, I visited the other thing that is an attraction in Branson; Table Rock lake and Dam.  I wasn’t there for all the touristy stuff.  I just wanted to see the Titanic Museum.  The other things that interest me were nature stuff, so I visited various parks around Branson before I headed to Table Rock Dam.




(see the rainbow?)  Yes, I know my sensor is filthy.  That was called laziness.

Once I was done touring Branson, I turned the windshield NorthEast and headed (dreadfully) back towards Chicago.  But!  There was ooooone more place along the way I decided to stop and see:


The last time I was in St. Louis, I was not able to go into the Arch.  This time, I did.  I had an odd desire to put on my Stahma Tarr costume and start walking around.  LOL!  Going into the arch was really  a neat experience.  The elevators to get up to the top are like little escape pods.  Extremely cramped and you have to hunch over, and yet somehow, they managed to cram 5 seats into them.  I can’t imagine 5 people in one!  Anyway, it was a super neat experience to end my trip with.

And, by the time I pulled into my apartment parking spot, after 10 days and 8 states, and 5 days in Dragon*Con costuming and fantasy bliss, look how many miles I piled onto my car:


The other thing I collected through my trip (besides T-shirts and magnets):wp_20160908_11_50_25_pro

Sadly, none of them won!  But they sure were colorful.  And Alabama does not have a lottery, apparently.

Overall, I had an AMAZING experience, and was so happy I had the chance to actually do all of these things that were just wishes for so many years.  The only “holy shit!” moment I experienced was a guy in Alabama that ran a stop sign and ran me right off the road.  Thank God for wiiiiiiide shoulders and flat corn fields.  Apparently, he needed to go visit Branson and understand the concept of stopping at a stop sign.  No worse for wear, he came inches from hitting my car, but at least one of us was paying attention.

The only other unhappy experience I had during my experience — was that it HAD TO END.  LOL!

I’m totally ready for Dragon*Con 2017. (Well, maybe not really.  Although secret costume construction has begun!!!)


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The Great Adventure – Part II : Dragon*Con


Obsessed?  OK… maybe just a little.  Maybe.  But you have to bear with me.  It has been since 2004 since I last attended this GLORY of all things Science Fiction and Fantasy.  So yea, Dragon*Con 2016 was a very special thing for me!

My redemption comes… and it comes in the form of a giant hotel and a yellow dragon.

If you don’t know the tale of woe of my life, I’ll fill you in on the basic details:  I’m obsessed with Predator.  I’ve been Predator costuming since I was 13 years old, and in 2002 I “discovered” the greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy convention in America.  I attended in ’02 and again in ’03 when I met another Predator there that ultimately I married.  I barely managed to attend Dragon*Con ’04 against his objections, and it was the last time I was ever “allowed” to go.  Every thing about our 12 years of abusive controlling time together was about taking away my joys – and it started with Dragon*Con.

So, now that I’m free – the first thing I decided the day I left him late last year was that over Labor Day 2016, I was going back home.

Dragon*Con is held every Labor Day, and this year was the 30th one.  (Next year, 2017, is the 30th anniversary of both Dragon*Con AND Predator!! – That’s going to be a BIG DEAL).  Dragon*Con is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention, not to be confused with a Comic Con – they are different (but only slightly).

The last time I attended this glorious “mardi gras of all things geeky and nerdy” in 2004, Dragon*Con’s attendance was around 25,000.  It was contained in 2 hotels (The Atlanta Marriott Marquis and the Hyatt Regency) and an interconnected mall.  Even then it was amongst one of the largest conventions in America.

In 2016 – the attendance was listed as just over 77,000 badges sold.  It was contained in a 4 block “City” that included the Marriott and the Hyatt, the Hilton, the Sheraton, the Westin, the Mall at Peachtree Center, and the Amerismart Buildings 1 and 2.  And every local club, and even the Georgia Aquarium a few blocks away.  Dragon*Con has become a city within the City of Atlanta.  I think next year it should get its own zipcode.  The Dragon*Con parade, which was just a small thing in 2004, has now become the 2nd largest parade in all of Atlanta!  Only their Thanksgiving parade is bigger.  And the “muggles” come out to watch, too (you normal folks who don’t dress up!)

So, after a beautiful drive through Tennessee and a trouble -free drive through northern Atlanta, I looked up through my open sunroof and look what I saw for the first time in 12 years…….



And Dragon*Con Fever had definitely – DEFINITELY – hit Atlanta in a BIG way.  There were signs and banners all over the city for Dragon*Con, and I even heard that the airport had a massive banner in it, too – Welcome to Dragon*Con!
Everything said Welcome To Dragon*Con, and Dragon*Con this and that all over the place – from restaurants to bus stops to all the hotels.   To say that D*C has grown since the last time I attended would be quite the understatement.  It was incredible.  Magical.  It was everything it always was and should be and will be.

Officially, Dragon*Con actually started on Friday Sept 1.  But unofficially, it began as early as Tuesday Aug 30.  Next year, I might check in sooner, and stay a day later.  Because while it also comes to a close on Monday, Labor Day, there are still events taking place that day, and check out can be a little crazy when the masses all decide to leave at the same time.

Let me just say – I took a couple hundred photos and several dozen videos.  No, I can’t possibly share them all here.  I am working on a video from the whole trip, and once that is done, I will share it.


I can tell you one thing – The Marriott Marquis is like no other hotel.  It is jaw-dropping to walk into it and look up (or down if you go to the top — and I did).  It is a remarkable hotel, and the perfect environment for Dragon*Con without a doubt.


By Thursday evening, there had to be a solid 5,000 people in the Marriott, I really don’t know.  With Dragon*Con being so spread out over a few blocks, that staggering 77,000 in attendance never really seemed so bad.  I don’t think there were more than 5,000 people in any one hotel at any one given time.  I do know the fire marshal had to intervene a few times to cut down on the numbers!  Ha!

At night, though – D*C becomes a party con.  Thousands of people pack into the Marriott (and the Hyatt) for after-hour parties in the lobby, the ballrooms, and the pool areas.  Besides the parties at local clubs and bars, the host hotels actually become raves – lights and dancing and thumping loud music and shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder passage through the hallways if you’re lucky.

For that reason, I couldn’t wear my Predator at late night for fear of something getting broken.  So, Thursday night was a non-Predator night.  Instead, I creeped people out with my Samara Morgan (The Ring).


This is a costume I first did around 2005 when The Ring first came out.  It wasn’t that I was crazy about the movie, honestly, I’m not a huge fan of horror films.  But The Ring, at the time, did at least show off some new tricks, and the first thing I thought was that I had “the hair” to pull of a good Samara.

So, the costume was born, and I have to admit- it is so so so fun to creep around the hallways and freak people out.  In the Predator, I have to try to scare people.  In the Samara, all I have to do is show up and people are freaked out.  I lost track of how many people I made scream just by walking around.  I’d come around a corner and people would literally stop what they were doing and run the other way.  It was awesome.

And, this is a great example of costuming on a budget.  All totaled, between body paint and fabric, I’m pretty sure this costume cost less than $40.  So while, it’s true that my Predator costume cost nearly $1,000 and depending on what you are doing, you will definitely pay big money for a good, accurate costume, the Samara costume just proves you can have a screen-accurate (ish) costume on a starvation budget.

Samara got me through Thursday night of freaking people out and by the time I finally slithered my way back to the hotel room, showered off all the body paint and collapsed in bed, I had been up 23 consecutive hours.  I was actually trying to make it a full day, but I failed.  Goal for next year, perhaps?  Hahaha!

On Friday during the day, I still wasn’t ready to don the Predator!  I knew I would be in it for long stretches over several days, so I was actually pacing myself and as such, I brought a couple of alternate costumes.

Friday morning I donned up my Legend Dark Dancer dress.  Now, I did the dress as seen in the movie when it first appears on the dancing mannequin.  I did that because I was too uncomfortable with the idea of 77,000 people seeing me walk around half naked with that huge drop V in the front of the dress.  Call me crazy.  I may have lost 60 pounds this year (so far), but I was just not up to letting modesty go. (Maybe next year….)  Besides, I think being faceless adds a creepy factor to costumes.

I got a lot of compliments on the dress, and it went over pretty well.  Hey, it was another comfortable one to wear, so there’s that.


I did try to put on my Stahma Tarr (Defiance) costume, but that one requires yellow eyes, and I have a lot of trouble getting contact lenses in, so I did not end up wearing it.  I really am terrible at contacts, and need more practice.  Next year, I am going to do at least 2, possibly 3 costumes that all require different colored eyes.  So….

Anyway, so Friday night was a costume contest and I had entered it in my Predator.  God I love this suit.  Did I mention how much I love this suit?  I am SO PROUD of my beautiful Predator, and I put it on around 3 on Friday and didn’t get out of it until after 11!


^^ On stage at Dragon*Con, Sept. 1, 2016.

The suit was amazing rave success.  I did not place in the contest, but I do love just being up on stage and hearing the crowd roar.  A couple things surprised me about people’s reactions to the suit at Dragon*Con.

Thanks to a tip on a simple way to do sound effects, I installed sound.  I have had this for the last few cons I’ve attended, and I have had a lot of compliments over it.  I really didn’t think the sound was “that big” of a deal.  I know many people have sound in their Predators, so I really didn’t think anyone would “care”.  The number of people who commented with raving compliments about the sound at Dragon*Con was just staggering to me.  I was shocked.  So, I guess not “everybody” has sounds, or it just completes the costume.  I lost track of how many thousands of times I heard compliments about the sound over the whole weekend.

One other thing that surprised me was that I had several dozen people take video of me.  And I’ve so far only found 1 video that actually has me in it (ha!).


Friday night, I found an Alien and a couple Colonial Marines to hunt down.  They never saw me coming…..



Saturday, I doubled up on the Dark Dancer and the Predator again and for something a little different, I brought out a gag-prop with me that I figured I would carry with me for an hour or so.

Here’s the final thing that really shocked me about Dragon*Con.  I mean…. I was really surprised.

I figured for sure no one would know what it even was supposed to be, and not really care about it.  Boy was I wrong.  Way wrong.

I had built a couple of baby Predator dolls over the summer, and brought them with me to Dragon*Con.  I took one with me out onto the con floor, and immediately, the comments were overwhelming.  Staggering.  If thousands raved about the sounds, tens of thousands raved about the baby (and sound!).  It was non stop for eight hours.

My arm was basically numb after carrying the doll with me for so long.  It doesn’t weigh much, but with the armor on, it really did put a major kink in my arm!  ha!  Nothing a few ibuprofen couldn’t fix, I suppose.


Above, Saturday, with some of my Star Wars Friends.

Below, Saturday afternoon.dragoncon2016

Saturday night, group Predator shoot with my friends.dragoncon2016-pred-group



In the video below, I actually made the cut along with a Stormtrooper friend of mine.

Sunday was  repeat of Saturday – 8 more hours of Predator and I donned the Samara once again for some more freaking people out.

Monday morning was the dawn of a sad day…. Dragon*Con was ending.  I saw William Shatner that morning and then checked out.


Although I was incredibly sad to leave the beautiful city of Dragon*Con behind, my road trip adventure was not over.


Stick around for Part III :  Branson, Missouri, and more.

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The Great Adventure – Part I

Ok, so this isn’t exactly the story of my life, but some of the lyrics are fairly appropriate.

After I let myself go from my marriage, I began to let myself go do all the things he said I couldn’t.  The things “we” didn’t have the money for (because he refused to work), the things he said were too far, too long of a drive, too boring, too “stupid”, or I was too fat to enjoy…..

I have officially let myself go.  Well, I haven’t let myself go on any singles cruises, nor would I if I had the money, and my recent adventures definitely did teach me quite a  bit about my social inabilities and solitary existence, but I had an amazing time.

The only really frustrating thing I heard from a few people over and over and over was “you really went by yourself?”  Who the fuck else am I going to go with?  Kind of thing that makes me grit my teeth until they break, but yea – I went myself, and had an amazing time.

This is the kind of thing I could never have done in my… “past life”, and I was grateful for the ability to go do it.  In some ways, I suppose, I’m checking off my bucket list because the truth is, we don’t know how long we have on this world, so why not start?

2016 has been one big adventure for me.  It’s been filled with new adventures, and making old things new again.  I’ve learned some new skills, and I’ve made some new friends along the way, and realized so much about myself that I didn’t know.  Not all of what I have learned is easy to accept, but slowly, I am coming to grips with exactly what I am and where I need to be in my life.

This year I’ve revisited taking road trips.  I used to always love road trips.  I was the kid who when I was 16 would just get in the car and drive (a Camaro, actually).  And I thought I was cool as hell because I had a crappy little car I could take myself any place in.  I drove to New York City, Phildelphia, Virginia, Ocean City Maryland… just for no reason, except that I could.

Over the last 12 years or so, my road trips plummeted to almost none.  They were restricted to only being for about an hour, and there had to be a specific destination in which I was required to purchase some kind of treat (food, trinkets, or candy).  Eventually, if I even managed to get in a 3-4 hour road trip to see a new place, I came back exhausted and miserable, and hated every minute of it.  I assumed I just no longer enjoyed road trips like I used to – just part of getting older, perhaps.

This year, I’ve taken 2 different 7-8 hour road trips and enjoyed every last sun-roof open, windows down, K-Love on the radio blasting minute of them both.  I realized I still do love road trips, and I was happy as could be with just me and my camera and my beautiful car.

So, all of 2016 was really gearing up for one big adventure.  I mapped out my road trip, planned the stops.  Figured out where I needed to be on what days, and by the time all was said and done, I had a 10-day long, 2400 mile road trip on the calendar, and I couldn’t wait to get out on the open road with my sun roof open!

I’ll break my little adventure up into 3 posts due to the amount of photos🙂

But enjoy!


The first leg of my adventure 2016 was through Illinois into Kentucky, with a quick stop to see Superman.  Yes, Superman.  Did you know Metropolis City is in Illinois?  It’s one of those places I’ve said for the last 6 or 8 years I wanted to go, so that was the first stop on my road trip.


metropolis1 metropolis2metropolis3metropolis4metropolis6metropolis7metropolis8metropolis9

The other statue is a tribute to the first lady who played Lois Lane.

Next on the agenda, was Kentucky.  I haven’t been to the Kentucky Horse Park since 2002, so it was high time I went once again.  For this stretch of my journey, I did have company.  A gracious friend who owns a horse farm in Kentucky let me stay at her place and came with me to the KHP.  We had a great time exploring Kentucky over 2 days.


Found a castle…

keenland1keenland2keenland3   keenland4keenland5keenland6keenland7keenland8


Visited Keenland Racecourse and then headed down the street to the KHP.


The last time I was at KHP, both John Henry and Cigar were living residents and I have pictures of both of them.  That was a little sad.



^ Go For Gin


^^ That’s FunnyCide


Had a nice walk around the eventing field in 100 degree heat (LOL!).  You eventing people – you’re nuts.  Your horses are nuts.  Everything about your sport is insane.  Those jumps are crazy.  I could not imagine galloping full speed towards one and thinking how my horse isn’t going to stop dead and drop my ass.  LOL!


Above are some shots from around the tobacco farm my friend owns.  What a beautiful place.  I took a gazillion photos of insects around the farm, and I will share those eventually too.


After two days in Kentucky, the next leg of my journey took me through the hills of Tennessee, near Nashville, headed south to Atlanta.  This photo below is the sunrise on Thursday 9/1 coming through Tennessee somewhere.  What a gorgeous state.  I have definitely forgotten how mountainous and beautiful the rest of the world is.  Made me question why I was going to back to Illinois when it was all over.



Stick around for part II – it’s epic.

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Big Adventures Coming

Oh my oh my oh my.

I cannot believe how quickly time flies!  It HAS been two months again, and I recall a few weeks ago thinking that I needed to post an update, and I figured I would do it “tomorrow”.  Well… tomorrow ended up being about 3 weeks later!  LOL!

I have been very busy, and it’s all been wonderful, and clearly keeping me well occupied.  As terrible of a horse parent I feel, I have not driven Luke or Jesse in the last two months, nor have I made any plans to show either of them.  I might have a fun show to take Luke to in the middle of September, but I’ll have to see if I can get some driving done with him before then.

The horses have been great.  Chewie is just enjoying his retirement right along with Dixie.  A few days ago marked my 6 year anniversary with Chewbacca.  Crazy to think how time flies.
Since the first day he came home with me, he has been nothing but a pleasure to handle and work with.  He learned to jump, learned dressage, did a bunch of trails, and then kicked butt as a driving horse, doing shows, trails, and even an 18th century reenactment (which was supposed to be made into a TV spot, and never seemed to happen sadly).  I can’t think of a more versatile animal, that’s always a pleasure to deal with, too.
He is  retired now, due to suspensory issues, but he holds steady at about a 2/5 lame.  Some days he ambles lazily, other days, he blasts through the farm like he’s got rockets attached to him.



I think Luke is too fat and Chewie is too skinny.  I think I need to flip-flop them.  LOL!


Chewie 1

Dixie turned 21 this year.  She’s most definitely the queen of the barn.

dixie 1

Jesse has got the most animated lips of any horse I’ve ever known.  I have so many “teeth shots” of him, it’s not even funny!  hahaha!  Here’s an Elvis impression.



And of course, Luke thinks having to share a bucket of treats with Chewbacca is just unacceptable.  He would like his own bucket, thank you very much.  (I try… but he just goes back to steal from Chewie anyway).

Luke 1

In the coming weeks, I have several major costuming events, and I have been mostly keeping myself busy working on costumes.  This year, I’ve been learning how to sew, sculpt, and work with latex, silicone, resin, and foam to create movie replica props and costume parts.  I’ve been learning to cast and mold, and I’ve been having a blast. I’m not good at any of it, but it sure is fun!

I have got one more costume to complete over the next couple weeks, and then eventually, I’ll be posting photos of everything.  Going to be some very cool updates in the near future!

In the mean time, I’ve been struggling with VERTIGO.  This dreadfully dizzying condition hit me like a freight train a month ago, and I haven’t quite been right since.  I’m working with my doc to try to figure out how to resolve it, but determining what caused it in the first place is a fickle thing.
I’m open to suggestions on how to fix vertigo!  My first attack put me in the E.R. and lasted for 9 days after wards.  My second attack happened just a few days ago and is still lingering on.  It’s very distressing, but I am hopeful that I can fix this issue in the next few weeks moving forward.

In other news, I have also been busting my butt working on weight loss, and while I am currently taking a break from exercising due to dizziness and balance issues I have suffered from the vertigo, I have managed to walk almost 600 miles of my 668 mile goal.  I got so close to the end, I hate to stop, but I have to.  In the last 6  months, I have walked off 60 pounds!!  I’ve dropped 8 sizes of jeans, 2 shirt sizes, and I have lost 13″ off my waist!!!

I still have a ways to go before I hit my total desired weight loss of 90 pounds, but I managed to get rid of 2/3 of that weight in a single summer, so I’m very pleased.  Once I get my vertigo figured out and get back to balancing out my body (literally…..) I will get back to exercising after Labor Day, and work off the remaining 30 hopefully by the end of the year!



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The Halfway Point

Ok, firstly I have to say WHOA… I’m a little mortified that it’s been two months since I last posted!  Holy cow, how time flies.  It’s been flying and I’ve been busy busy busy and enjoying every second I can.  I have a lot of years to make up for if I can, and I’ve been  totally focused on my life anew, making strides to figure out my shady mental state, and accept my circumstances.

It has become something of a tradition for me to evaluate my goals at the halfway point, so here were are – June 1.  Half the year is over, and half the year still to come (although technically, I suppose July 1 is actually the more appropriate date for half the year passed.).  At any rate, here I am.

I did not have much in the way of goals for 2016, but I did have a few.  The goals I did have, some of them have changed shape or been shelfed completely.  I’m starting to find pieces of myself that I once remembered and long since thought I lost, and those pieces are starting to fit together like a comfortable old pair of slippers and they are starting to shape my new life going forward in their own way.  I am exploring new endeavors, trying things I have never tried before, and learning skills and more about myself that I never would have been able to realize living in the conditions I was.

So, let’s see where I am at.  My original goals for the year were to:

  • Photograph Bald Eagles
  •  Build new costumes – a Castithan/Stahma Tarr from Defiance costume, an entirely new (and hopefully improved!) Predator costume, also a couple other costumes, including Princess Nuala from Hellboy 2, and the dark dancer from Legend.
  • Resume attending Science Fiction Conventions, and most of all attend my precious Dragon*Con again.
  •  Compete with Luke or Jesse in the Hickory Knoll CDE and/or another CDE in the Midwest.
  • Attend the National Drive in Kentucky
  •  Take a photo journey to the Florida Everglades
  •  Finalize divorce
  •  Go skydiving (in Florida!)

Well, I have definitely done some Bald Eagle photographing, including taking another trip to Horicon Marsh, where I spotted 2, so I would say that is one complete.

I’m going to skip the costume building & Sci-Fi con goal for the moment and discuss that in a second.

I have also changed my goals a bit with the horses. Because of the previous goal (costumes & conventions) taking new life, it’s pushing my horse activities back a bit, and I feel a bit like I’m standing at a cross road – horses going one way, conventions and costuming going the other.  There’s a truth here that I should share at this point.  In 2003, I sold my horse and all my tack.  I did that because I chose science fiction conventions and costuming over horses.  I wanted to build bigger, better costumes, and pursue this love I have and travel to cons.  I made that choice because although I love both things dearly, there is one thing that has more of a driving force in my life than horses ever have.
And then, it was all shut down.  The beauty of narcissistic abuse- the abuser shuts down your passions, and takes them away from you.  I held on to horses throughout my marriage because it was the one thing I was allowed, in some degree, although it became troublesome when I wanted to show or travel with the horses.  At least the horses kept me grounded, “forced me” (in a matter of speaking) to remain home, local, and bound to my marriage under threat of them being taken away from me if I left.
Now that I have this freedom again, I am able to pursue both interests, but one is coming out full-force while the other is shifting away again.

I’m still working on both the trip to Florida and the skydiving thing.  Both are dependent on money, of course, and also both are weather dependent.  I can’t skydive when it’s cold or raining, and I don’t want to try to hit the Everglades when it’s 2,000 degrees in Florida!  LOL!!

My divorce was finalized on Feb 26, so that is one major goal accomplished!

But that is far from the only goal.  Let’s back up to the whole costume building thing and conventions.

Goals met – check, check, and check.  I began working towards accomplishing those goals starting January 2.  I bought admission to Dragon*Con and organized a hotel room in the hotel I am compelled to stay in – the one I stayed in during the con in 2002, 2003, and 2004, and also insisted on staying in after my wedding, despite my nasty husband’s objections.  I got a room at the Marriott Marquis.

A month later, I had attended one small Sci-Fi con in the Stahma Tarr costume I made, which also involved me getting a sewing machine and putting some paltry sewing skills to use.

I also started building my beloved Predator costume at the beginning of January.  Three months later, the suit was complete and I attended my first convention in ten years as Predator (Wizard World Madison).


I also attended another large convention (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo) out of costume, and then in May drove to Michigan to attend another convention with a group of Predators at the Motor City Comic Con.  I have 2 small events in June, currently nothing in July, and then 2 major events at the end of August and beginning of September, with another small event squished in between the two.



(Above, 2 photos from Motor City Comic Con, including the group shot featuring 9 of the 11 Predators and 2 aliens.  There were also 5 Colonial Marines and a Ripley, even Jonesy Cat and a facehugger, making up a huge 19 person group Cosplay event)

When I built the Predator suit, it made me utilize new materials I was not familiar with – foam, latex, and airbrushing paint.  I realized while doing it that I love … I mean LOVE… airbrushing.  It sparked a fire in me, and I am now in “airbrush everything” mode, and have even gone so far as to drive 8 hours from home to learn from a professional airbrush artist.  I have also begun sculpting and have some vague plans to perhaps put my growing knowledge base to use and earn an income with that.

For me, life has been taking me in a direction I had not planned on, and I am loving it.  For the first time in a long time, I feel right.  I feel like I am tenderly stepping out into a world where I am happy, and enjoying all life has to offer, and I am letting the waves carry me, so to speak.  I have made major changes and I’m trying to let it all absorb.

For me, Predator has always been something that inspired me – to paint, draw, sculpt, create, and even socialize.  It’s always elicited good impacts in my life, and when my love of the Predator fandom and attending conventions was squashed out of me for 10 years, it took a toll on me.  I’m back to doing what I love, and I really hope the next 6 months prove to have as tremendous waves as the last 6 months have.

One other major change that the Predator suit elicited was a physical one.  As I started into the build and saw that it was coming along well, I began to realize I needed to change my body shape in order to present the suit to the best of my ability.  I had once lost 45 pounds, before I discovered cancer in my leg in 2011, and in the subsequent years, stress, depression, and lack of….anything…. led me to gaining 65 pounds back.  As I looked at myself during the Predator build, I realized the weight needed to go, because I needed to be at my best for my much-anticipated return to Dragon*Con after 12 years.

So, with 7 months before the con, I started dieting & exercising in February.  I set myself the goal of walking to Dragon*Con.  It is 668 miles from my front door to those wonderful glass doors of the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta.  So, my distance to Dragon*Con plan was born.  As of now, June 1, I have walked/biked/jogged/run a total of 353 miles towards that goal, and have lost approximately 60 pounds.  I have dropped almost 10 full sizes of jeans, and have lost almost 10″ off my waist.  I have a 90 pound goal, so I still have work to do, but I am hopeful that I will lose the remaining 30 and be at my goal weight for the great con!

So that is where I am at this halfway point through the year.

The horses are fine and wonderful, and I am have been working them on trails during nice weather.  Chewbacca is enjoying his retirement along with Dixie, and both are doing well.  Luke is ready to go whenever there’s a trail waiting, and is perfectly happy hanging out the rest of the time.

As for me… I can only hope to be lucky enough to ride this ride for a long time.

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Busy Bees and Birds!

Well, technically I am the busy bee.  But that has led to an awful lot of birds!  I know it seems like it is few and far between updates.  That is a testament not to having nothing going on, but having everything going on!

The horses are great, but intermittent good weather (or should I say mostly lousy weather) has not led to much work for them. I did get them out once this year already for a brief jaunt down the road, but that was about it.

In the mean time, I am definitely fully immersed in a massive (almost overwhelming) amount of new changes and activities and living a life like brand new.  I’ve been crazy busy working on projects at home, but I have also been getting out for nature walks and photos.  So, I present the gamut of captures I’ve taken since my last update.  Enjoy!

Below:  A  Cooper’s Hawk

hawk 2

hawk 3hawk


Above, a Belted Kingfisher (my best shot of one yet!)

Below, a Gold Crowned Kinglet (first time for me!)


Above:  Common Mergansers (best shots yet)

Below, a muskrat

muskratsap sucker

Above, a yellow bellied sap sucker (another first for me!)

Below, a Northern Shoveler (also a first)shovelersparrow

Above… ummmm…..  song sparrow I think??  turns out I’m not too good at ID’ing the little birds.  And try to Google “small brown bird”.  Yea…

Below, Blue Wing Teals





Above, turtles basking in the sun.  I normally don’t photograph the turtles, but it was cute how they were all lined up.  They are red eared slider turtles.  This is what happens to all those pet store turtles when the kids grow tired of them or the parents realize how much work is actually involved in keeping a turtle – they are prolific reproducers and rather invasive.

Below… again, this is where my Google search of “little brown bird” fails me.  I don’t know what this is, but it’s a first for me as well.


Below, also a first for me (yay, I love all these firsts!) – a yellow rumped Warbler.  This little guy  loved having his picture taken.  I must have 30 photos of him.  He actually kept following me around the park.  He would fly from tree to tree behind me wherever I went and followed me for over 1/2 mile.  He was very cute and put on quite a show for me.


In the coming weeks, I hope to plan for another trip to Horicon Marsh, with spring weather (supposedly) here, and all the migrants coming and going, this seems to be the best birding time right now.  The herons & egrets & cormorants have returned and are nesting and all the little song birds are putting on shows singing for mates.  I can’t wait to see what I find around the Marsh in spring instead of late summer.

As 2016 has brought about dramatic changes in my life, and shifts in my activities, opening doors to past loves that I am happily able to pursue again, my equine activities are going to spiral downward just a little bit, and at this point, I have no plans to horse show in 2016.  I may try to hit some trails here and there, but otherwise, there will be plenty of other activities and events for me to pursue.

Stay tuned!

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