Mission GISH-Possible

What have I been up to, you ask?

Oh, not much.

Just…

….GISH….

For the past week I have been making bizarre requests from friends, neighbors (one of whom questioned why I needed an ax and should she be worried, the other who handed me one with no questions) and completely perplexed, but nice strangers.

I’ve traveled for supplies, stumps, wings and more, keeping safe-distance practices during our unusual interactions, all in pursuit of a life beyond the ordinary.

It always starts with a small idea…and then it steamrolls into a massive production. GISH keeps me hopping for days on end until, suddenly, it’s all over and all that is left are the memories.

And the photos.

Let me share them with you now. (Brace yourselves, if you’ve never experienced unbridled GISH, perhaps you’d best be near the fainting couch or have your salts handy?)

Here we go….

Item. #18: Snack attack! This one was a brutal one.

I drove about 25 miles to get a piece of free styrofoam as a base for my personal vision. I spray painted it green and threw in a few trees, a small mountain. And, voila!

First, I’m going to show you the picture I submitted.

Please admire our headgear. I bought a box of Capt. Crunch just so I could make this hat.

Next, I’m going to show you all of the little close-ups of my monstrous creation.

I’m most proud of my commander–Colonel Custard cuts a fine figure:

You gotta love a man in uniform–with a head full of custard.

A lot of love went into my Sweet v. Savory battle. I even wrote a little story to go along with it. Want to hear it?

“When we woke that morning, we discovered the snacks had aligned in age-old battle of Sweet versus Savory. Battle ensued with each side taking hits. Colonel Custard maintained his dignified distance on the hill, directing cannon fire at the approaching cheese balls. While his counterpart–Colonel Cheddar rallied his troops. The Dorito Fusiliers were stalwart–though their bread stick pikes were poor substitutes for actual weaponry. Neither side had a complete advantage. The caramel corn was hard to shoot, as the whites of their eyes were often looking off in different directions, making them hard to spot. Many snack foods made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of tasteful aggression. One only hopes, the lonely drummer boy makes it out to tell the tale.”

Why, yes, I do like spending hours playing with candy…why do you ask?

If you squint, you might just spot the little drummer boy, with his blue Sweet Tart snare drum. He is the only lollipop with arms. (And if anyone wonders if my use of Root Beer lollipops is a nod to  Buffalo Soldiers or other soldier of color, no, I wasn’t being political. I used up the candy I didn’t like as much. Though, I did eat one moon pie during construction. They taste terrible, by the way, so I was happy to sacrifice them to the cause.)

And let’s not forget the opposing side:

Do you see the cheese ball trying to surrender in the blurry foreground? I tried to capture the pathos of war as well as the whimsy.

Colonel Cheddar was prone to falling over and breaking his cracker base. Giving him a beard added to his gravity as much as his gravitas.

I loved the little cheese ball troops. So, here’s them from another angle as they are blocked by the cannon in the picture above.

So many cheese balls didn’t die on the battlefield. They were eaten during production.

There was a certain zen quality that came over me as I glued tiny googly eyes to each puffed creature. (There was also searing pain from the hot glue gun.) And even when I was finished, new ideas were popping into my head.

Hey, I could hang a few cheese puffs from invisible thread and make it look like they are flying through the air! I should use some of the red gel to make the battlefield look bloodier.

Sometimes, you just have to let these ideas go. 

Okay, one more picture before I move on. I present the mighty Dorito fusiliers with their bread stick bayonets.

The Doritos are a brave, but very fragile troop. It didn’t help that their commander was eating them while battle was raging.

And in case you wondered where was my son in all this mayhem? He helped to make the clouds you see in the background. (I wouldn’t have had any Dorito troops if I’d let him near them until it came crunch time.)

He tolerated wearing his “Cheeze-Its” Hat and the shenanigans of photographing early morning maneuvers at the kitchen table.

Here, you can see his enthusiasm in this one shot I took of him.

The Face of War:

You would think getting to eat Milk Duds and Doritos for breakfast would have put him in a good mood.

Some projects gave my heart a whirl, I loved them so much.

Other projects…well…

Item. #14 (TIMELAPSE) A melted-crayon rainbow “drip painting” portrait of an LGBTQIA icon or message of LGBTQIA inclusion and support.

In my defense, all I saw was the word ‘crayons’ and I thought, “Great, something fun I can do with my son.” That did not turn out to be the case.

I wanted to do something serious, thought provoking and tender on the subject. I even texted with a friend who identifies with this community to make sure my message wasn’t offensive.

We agreed, it was hard to come up with something short that carried the weight of my intentions.

I aimed for elevated and tasteful, and instead, I did this…

Not all art is good art. Case in point.

It took over three hours (more since I had to drive to get a used frame and then get white paint to cover up the existing blue color) to cobble together this horrible example of crayon art.

The letters kept falling off. I had to pin them in place with tweezers and get the melted wax to hold them down. I was swearing and cursing the entire way through before I was done only to get the mess you see at the end.

I hope you watched the entire two minutes because I need something good to come out of this. If this prevents anyone else from committing the same mistake of thinking this would be “Easy” or “Fun” then my sacrifice will be worth it.

MESSAGE TAKEAWAY: JUST SAY NO TO CRAYON ART!

Now, back to the JOY-JOY that is GISH when it goes right.

One of my favorites was one of the easiest…after procuring the materials and finding a location where I could swing an axe without raising a few eyebrows.

Item. #38 Writer’s Block

I think we have all been there. Frustrated by the inability to find the right word. So, if you too long to kill your darling literary children in a more hands-on fashion, might I suggest this as a therapeutic approach to writer’s block:

Big shout out to Huff Tech Solutions for not hanging up on me when I called asking for a sacrificial computer to destroy.

“Sure, I’ve got a bunch. How many do you need?”

Additional thanks go to the lovely people who’s backyard I defiled by exorcising my long-festering writer’s rage. Thank you for sharing your stump with me.

By the way, props go to the Gateway computer company. It took me six wacks to break my way through that case, though the keyboard itself cracked under only two. Might want to work on that in quality control.

Let’s zip through a few more GISHy items:

Item. #22 Depict something you struggle with (mental health issues, a personal issue, etc) as a strange cryptid you encountered in the woods.

I made three attempts to get the final version which would both express my inner struggles as well as manifest them as some sort of mythical demon.

Because we aren’t allowed to photoshop (which I discovered AFTER I had painstakingly mastered the art of picture-within-a-picture technology), I printed a photo of me in my best interpretation of Elphaba from Wicked – thanks, Mom for getting green face paint for me!

After conquering my inner demon, I tackled something a little sweeter:

Item #37 What’s something that you’ve never cooked or baked because it just seemed too daunting or difficult? Cook that thing. Submit a side-by-side image showing what you created beside an example of an expert-level creation of the same food.

Both harder and easier than you’d think

The thing about Baked Alaska is, it’s basically cake and ice cream with a foamy topping. If you are expecting it to taste any different, you might be disappointed. (Also, let the cake thaw a bit or you might break a tooth.)

I decided to get my son involved in the next one…as it is much easier to take pictures of someone else walking around blindly in a monster suit.

Item. #28 Movies and lore often focus on the everyday scaring and terrorizing that monsters do. Let’s see one of the most mundane things a horror icon has to do in their daily lives.

The mower is NOT turned on. I’m at least smart enough not to send the kid out blind AND pushing a spinning death machine.

I have a short video clip of my son getting attacked by the rose bush which I’m including because it makes me laugh to see the monster undone by the flora.

The plants fight back and win in this one.

Quickly now, before you fall into a GISH-Coma. (Which is how I feel after doing this for a week. Just imagine! You’re tired just reading all of it!)

I can now claim I have sung with Kansas!

I sang with the band Kansas on a live stream of their very famous song “Wayward Son.” And then strong-armed friends to record a version of us mutilating that very same song–TWICE.

Group the First (pictured only)

Sorry, this was all I managed as I am not smart enough to figure out where a screen shot goes to hide on my computer.

There was small issue of the first attempted recording NOT happening because the Zoom gods are fickle and mercurial and/or we forgot to sacrifice a turnip to them, or something.

Kudos to the gang who was able to reassemble into a much smaller, slightly more cohesive group the next day.

We needed five. We got five!

Kudos to you valiant few, you brave band of singers who came to my rescue when it appeared all was lost!

Next item up is courtesy of my very good friend Mary Jane who dabbles her toes in the creative waters–and happened to own the exact outfit I needed for this:

Item. #41 Antisocial butterfly.

I had a blast doing this. Anyone who roams the Muskegon area might recognize the site.

Monet’s Garden in Muskegon, MI is a very tiny slice of paradise but totally worth stopping to admire the flowers–or scaring total strangers by wearing a giant butterfly costume and a snarling expression.

What’s next? Oh yes. How could I forget? One of my favorite–more science than art–was helping out the Mars Rover!

Item #106 The Curiosity rover has been driving on Mars since 2012, collecting close-up images of the Mars surface. Help classify some of the Mars images that the rover team will actually use to train the rover. Sign up at AI4Mars, complete the tutorial, and complete at least one image classification exercise.

I LOVED doing this, so much so, that I’m still doing it. And you can too! If you are going to be schooling from home this fall, like I am, you are going to be looking for things like this that might interest your science-minded child. Or, maybe, just give you a zen-like calm by creating little quadrilaterals and labeling them. Go the Zooniverse and check out their AI4Mars program.

Here’s an image like the kind I worked on to help the MARS rover more accurately identify topological terrain.

I had to retake this photo as I could not find my original. Hope it made it to GISH land!

If you have younger children and you want to do something more their speed, GISH has something for them too!

Item #131 At dusk, seek out one or more real living fireflies somewhere in the US or Canada, document and upload your observations to iNaturalist. Join the Firefly Project and tag your observations to: Fireflies of the USA and Canada. Send us a screenshot. Bonus points: Share a video of yourself or loved ones communicating with the fireflies.

I screwed up at first by not checking what the FireFlies of the USA and Canada was looking for and I videotaped a firefly in the distance instead of up close with identifying features.

This starts off looking like a horror film, but really, it’s a tame trip through the cemetery after dark. I promise.

I swear, I didn’t notice the creepy laughter off to the right of us the first time.

So, the next night, I went outside our house and trapped a firefly and took a less-than identifiable image. Those suckers are fast when they want to be.

Okay, even I’m running out of steam reviewing all the stuff I did. You’ve got to be aching to yawn by now!

If not…here’s the social bit about GISH that really helps when you’re isolated and alone like I am. You get to meet weirdos like yourself. (Cause apparently, I’m a rare breed of people.)

Item. 146 It’s time for #GISHBOND 2.0! Using the GISH App, reach out to other Gishers and find one person who has an unconventional commonality with you. Submit an image or video of you both illustrating your strange bond and how you helped each other out. Post to social media tagged #GISHBond.

What are the odds you’ll find another Cross-Stitching Veteran? In GISH, pretty high!

I did sign up blindly for one unknown item, but was really happy I did when the very long description turned out to be so easy and right up my gardening alley. I’m shortening the description, they really did use a paragraph and a half to say something simple.

And yes, this is the short version.

Item #: 199 We’re all here because of Steve Wozniak. Why? He’s the co-founder of Apple and spearheaded the creation of the very first Apple personal computer. Anyway, it’s Steve’s birthday on the 11th of August, so we’ve decided to honor him with a little of the GISH Community’s creativity. Your first Woz birthday item is: Have you ever heard of Woz’s happiness algorithm? Here’s his secret to happiness: Happiness = Smiles – Frowns. That’s it. It’s that simple… and it works. Have one person on your team write out their personal “formula for happiness’ in an equation (simple or complex) on a chalkboard, piece of paper, or artistically using flower petals, twigs, or stones and take a picture of it so we can read it. Post your image on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, and make sure to include the hashtags #GISH and #WozdomDay2!

This took about two hours, and most of my flowers, to create. Could not get a butterfly to land and sit still on it, though I think I did spot a hummingbird moth buzzing about sipping nectar.

So much GISH to talk about, so little time!

There were many opportunities to take part in live Zoom activities. I attended game night with members of the cast of Supernatural. It was fun voting for the best Quip Lines and I really liked how natural it seemed to take part.

Does taking a picture of your screen make you a stalker or just a next-level fan? Asking for a friend. (If you look, you can see where I photo shopped out my Amazon password. I’m lucky if I don’t get hacked on a daily basis!)

And then there was the last GISH item I did (but not the last one I’m showing you–hah, you got your hopes up, didn’t you?)

Item #7. Involved watching a live action cooking show with Monika Reti. I’m not sure how she’s related to GISH or to the Supernatural cast, but she is a single mom who has battled and won breast cancer, so, Power to the Sisterhood!

Monika writes a blog and teaches cooking too. Check her out on: https://www.hipcooks.com/OC/about/monika

Other than a tendency to use the phrase ‘Yummus’ to describe her hummus, it was fun to watch and even more fun to take part in the subsequent challenge:

Thought you might like to see how the live challenges look!

I was quite wiped out by the time I wrapped up this edible presentation. Hopefully you can appreciate the two hours spent carving teeny tiny creatures.

They were delicious for breakfast the next morning.

Here’s hoping I win a copy of the proffered “The Adventurous Eaters Club.”

I’ve saved the best presentation for last, and it nearly didn’t happen for several reasons.

  1. I found a $2.00 wedding dress at a Goodwill Depot. (Yay) It was size 16 and I am not. (Boo.)
  2. The family who volunteered to come over to participate in the event came down with something unpleasant involving vomiting. They very wisely and kindly stayed home instead.
  3. As it turns out, balloons filled with water left in the sun for too long, pop.

Despite these stumbling blocks, I am happy to present my final brag/item of the day:

Item. #14. Tie-dye something that definitely, absolutely, should not be tie-dyed.

My very lovely cousin came down, with her brother, to provide a moving target. I felt it was only reasonable to give the bride her own bucket of balloons to hurl back at us! It was the best fun I had all week, and my son giggled once he learned he could burst the balloons on himself!

I love that she said ‘Yes’ without hesitation–even figuring out babysitting for her two children to make this happen. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I won’t forget this!

Here’s my favorite shot of her staged next to a familiar baked good:

Always a beautiful bride–even when she’s fictionally tie dyeing the knot!

For those of you who are asking, “What kind of charity is this?” here’s a link to the GISH Charitable Gifts. so that you can answer that question yourself. I did participate in some donations, but I prefer not to brag too much about that kind of thing.

And for those of you who haven’t yet considered joining the mad-mad GISH collective, what’s stopping you? Other than the obvious reasons…

The tiny unscathed one is my mother, who choose to avoid the melee. She may have stayed dry, but I bet she had a lot less fun while she did!

20 thoughts on “Mission GISH-Possible

    1. As much or as little as you want to put in. I have fun devoting my brain to something almost entirely creative. I don’t get to do much of it in real life, so it is good to let off steam this way. But, it is exhausting…so pace yourself if you try next year!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Dwight, I sincerely recommend you try out some of the fun yourself. GISH happens every year–and this year they tossed in a single-day GISH challenge to help people get through COVID. Every year they raise funds to help worthy projects. You’ll never feel like you did not celebrate life while making it a little better for someone else. And that’s not a bad way to spend your time!

      Like

    1. You’ll never regret it! Though…maybe pace yourself. I’m burned out the whole week following as I ‘shoot for the moon’ so to speak. You’ll be very welcome to our wacky community. See you next year!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not joking. That looks like a blast. I mean, all by myself years ago I started a major project involving Barbie dolls. Two performance stages with lights and musical instruments, “Barbie’s Battle of the Bands: Benefit Concert for Cellulite Victims.” I didn’t finish because I ended up not wanting to sew all those Barbie clothes.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. So, my comments are:
    1. I laughed like anything. You are such a hilarious writer!
    2. I am now wondering what the heck I have been doing with my time this year.
    3. Thanks for the Mars Rover tip. That looks awesome (as a science nerd who intended to become an astrophysicist and somehow ended up a special ed teacher instead).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you are a special ed teacher, perhaps you will have some suggestions on how I will keep my child occupied at home this fall–as I am not sending him to school. If you have a full syllabus to send me, so much the better! Sigh, it’s gonna be rough days ahead. We have to laugh now, we won’t be laughing for long, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No full syllabus I’m afraid and without knowing your son’s disability, education standard or interests it’s hard to make specific suggestions but here’s some ideas:

        Google ‘sensory science’ and ‘sensory art’ for some cool activities.
        Teachers Pay Teachers is a great website for free or low cost printable activities.
        Tar Heel Reader has a range of online books on all sorts of topics for special ed students.
        GoNoodle is fun for some active breaks.

        Hope that helps. Good luck. You’re doing an amazing job in an enormously challenging time.

        Liked by 1 person

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