The Real Food Show Video

Last year, I posted about the Real Food Show, the elementary assembly show that uses the fun and magic of the circus to teach about healthy eating and lifestyle. (If you want to know more, check out that post or visit www.therealfoodshow.org.)

Well, needless to say, Della and I aren't performing the Real Food Show (nor almost anything else) these days, so we've got a bit of time on our hands. And since a lot of schools are doing the whole virtual thing, at least for the time being, which we only imagine isn't easy on the parents, teachers, or students, we got an idea. We decided to record the Real Food Show and make it available for all for free as a video on youTube. That way, when a kiddo needs a break or a treat but still needs to log those educational hours, they can watch us juggle junk food, balance protein blocks, and ride unicycles, all the while learning about healthy eating in a fun, engaging way! Our hope is that the show will reach millions of little eyeballs spreading the important message of health while causing smiles on both kids', parents', and teachers' faces alike, so by all means, if you know someone who might find it helpful, please feel free to pass it along: http://www.tinyurl.com/realfoodshow

And since I know you, loyal BdW reader, want to see what all the health fuss is about, I'm proud to present the Real Food Show. Enjoy!


Monday September 28 2020File under: circus, food

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Money Map


Thanks to the time freed up by having all my work and adventures cancelled by quarantine, I've completed another long-overdue project! I've been dreaming and scheming of this money map for well over a decade. Every country I travel to*, I try to come home with one of each of the coins and bills under, say, $10. It's often the only souvenir I end up with. And over the past decade plus, I've built up quite a collection.

Before you ask, no, each country isn't made up only with coins from that country. I considered that, but logistically, it just doesn't make sense. Panama and Costa Rica together can only fit one small coin while Russia and China would have tons of repeat coins. It was hard enough deciding what to do with narrow land masses that were fractions of a coin wide. (Malay Peninsula, I'm sorry.)

It broke my heart to cut the paper money to make the shapes, but I consoled myself knowing that the money is either outdated, of so little value that it's no big deal, or that I won't likely return to the country to use to it*. Even so, there's well over the equivalent of $100 used which makes it maybe the most expensive piece of art I own.

This thing is not small, either. It is over 6 feet wide (obligatory artist with his creation shot for scale), partially to help deal with those pesky narrow land masses and small islands. And getting the coins to stick in place was a bear. I fully expect to awake to the plink plink of falling coins some night not too far off.

But overall, I'm inordinately pleased with how it turned out, and that I finally got around to completing a project that's been in my head for so long. Admiring at all the money while creating it and remembering the stories attached to each place was a great balance to the backache that came from being hunched over, gluing for hours at a time. Really, I don't think I could conceive of a piece of art better suited to my interest: travel and money. Sure, maybe I could throw in the equator made of gummi bears, but that's how you get ants.

What will the next long-overdue quarantine art project be? Check back in 5 months to find out!

P.S. If destroying money is illegal, I'm sorry. And I've got a lot of countries I better not show my face in again. Here's hoping the Governor of the Netherlands Antilles isn't an avid BdW reader.
Saturday September 5 2020File under: travel, misc

Toggle Comments (1)comment?
on Sat 26th Sep, 2020 11:44 am EDT Horge said:
Cool! Want to add any closeups of the continents? I'm curious what's where (won't ask you to label each of them, but also wouldn't say no to you doing it)
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This is 41

This week, I turned 41 years old. I celebrated the occasion with good food, a little adventure, and inevitable reflection. As to this last point, I thought I might record a bit of those reflections here so when age 81 rolls around (which I truly hope it does), I'll be able to look back and know what I was thinking (and see how not fat and not completely bald I once was.)

Notable occurances of this 41st trip around the sun were:
  • An wonderful trip to Indonesia etc. that, besides being a top notch adventure and thoroughly enjoyable time with my partner, also kept my number-of-countries-visited count higher than my age, a balance which I hope to maintain until I die.
  • The anticipated upward progress of our Wren and Della juggling brand was thoroughly twarted by COVID-19. The few gigs we've managed to get are sweet little birthday parties that do a lot to fill that place in my life for connecting with and making audiences smile but also remind me how much I like and miss my "job".
  • With the newly available time courtesy of the shutdown of basically all of my hobbies/jobs/interests, I re-learned how to run. While I can't quite yet say I enjoy it, I've impressed myself with both my stick-to-it-ive-ness and my progress—I'm doing 4 miles at a ~7:15 pace 3 times a week.* It also has kept me a fraction of a pound below 190, which I mention for data keeping's sake.
  • Regular albeit slow progress on a number of life goals: I continue to get an occasional crossword published*; I've racked up a couple more fun TV/film background extra appearances; I continue to apply for Jeopardy! at every opportunity with this year scoring my best yet on the qualifying test at ~39/50 (along with other random game show applications); maintaining good old Blog du Wren and its various data sets (sleeping around, jumping project, crossword resume, etc.)

What solar circumnavigation #42 has in store is more up in the air than ever before. I hope my custom tailored life stays pretty much the same, maybe just cranked up a tiny notch or two: slightly more adventurous adventures, slightly more successful successes, and slightly more noteable noteables. But we'll see what Dr. Fauci* has to say about that. But even if this life on pause continues until I'm 42, where I am at 41 is not a bad place to be paused: safe and comfortable home, wonderful partner, and diversions enough to keep things from getting too boring.

All in all, on the occasion of reflection, I'd say all is well: the reflection of my life I see makes me smile and what better birthday wish could a guy hope for?
Monday August 17 2020File under: misc

Toggle Comments (3)comment?
on Fri 28th Aug, 2020 01:09 pm EDT Chris said:
Well done on avoiding the light for one more year! Although I'm concerned by your banner - it looks like the "1" isn't permanent - Is there talk that your birthday is in danger of being revoked?!?
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on Mon 07th Sep, 2020 01:05 am EDT rus said:
yr running data impresses me. keep on keep on.
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on Sat 26th Sep, 2020 11:50 am EDT Horge said:
Happy belated birthday! I can't remember if I wrote you about it. I know I thought it (also since you share it with my sister-in-law), but at my age, I ain't so good at the 'memberin' like I used to...
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Sleeping Around 2019-2020

I've always viewed the data collection project I call Sleeping Around as being a great way to quantitatively encapsulate my life. Where I spend my nights seems to summarize my life for any given period pretty well. And with 12 years of data, I can make comparisons and see trends that I might not otherwise be able to do. And, in 20 years from now, I can look back and see what my 2019-2020 Sleeping Around analysis said—in short, what a strange year.

Needless to say, COVID-19 and its accompanying quarantine is the reason this year's data is so different. Cancelled housesitting, cancelled travel, and cancelled gigs all make for a pretty bland data set. In the 12 years I've been keeping data, I've never spent more than twenty-odd nights in a row at home, with anything over a week being a rarity. This year, I've only slept away from the Outback three nights in 5 months, with a solid 3-month uninterrupted at home chunk in middle of all that.

Nights at home vs. housesitting

And while I know comparisons are basically moot, I'm a creature of habit, so here's a table of data:
# of housesitting houses6Even before COVID, housesitting was down a little. Being gone for 2 months in prime season didn't help either.
# of states (other than WA)2OR, OK (definitely lowest ever)
# of countries (other than US)3Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, which goes a long way towards keeping up on my '# of countries visited > my age' goal
Longest stretch at home99 daysI hope this a record that is not beaten for a long long time
Longest stretch away from home59Two months feels like real time away
# in car (/airplane/train)25Mostly in the van, but a couple plane/train nights
# in hotel/hostel50At an average price of $17


Other observations and thoughts:
  • It's nice seeing a few Boat Nights again! A sailboat, a ferry, and an exotic Klotok!
  • The absence of adventures that have become regular on my yearly calendar noticeably change the data (really missing Dude Camp, Crossword Tournament, fairs and festivals)
  • Will these numbers ever return to "normal"? While Della and I very much realize how lucky we are to have the living situation we do and it has been very nice as far as places to quarantine, I do hope the housesitting, travelling, and work adventures return soon!

This yearly recap always makes me nostalgic, contemplative, and excited for the future, this year maybe more than ever. And with so much around me different and upside down, it is nice to have the warm consoling arms of data to make things feel just a little bit normal.
Sunday August 2 2020File under: stats

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Sunday Universal Crossword By Me!

This past Sunday, you might have seen a crossword puzzle created by yours truly run in your local paper. Well, let's be honest, you probably didn't because 1) who gets papers anymore? 2) the Universal Sunday puzzle doesn't run in that many papers anyway, with the NYT and LAT being far more common and 3) even if you get the paper and your paper runs the Universal, you probably didn't look at the creator anyway. That's why I'm posting about it here...though the readership of BdW is probably about as high as the number of people that noticed that I wrote the puzzle, i.e. fewer than the number of skittles in a fun size pack. But I digress....

Having a crossword come out is always an exciting event for me. Even though this puzzle is my 35th published puzzle(!), I still get a twinge of excitement knowing that someone out there is cursing my name—I mean, enjoying my work. The Universal, besides having an editor that I really like working with, has some prestige and even ranks high enough to get reviewed. And, refreshingly, this one got a not bad review: "Pleasant theme and grid. Four stars."

Besides skimming the reviews, one of my publication-day routines is to try and find a copy of said puzzle. The published version always differs enough from my submitted version (mostly in the cluing) that I feel like I need to grab a copy for posterity (and to add to my resume). This hunt sometimes takes me to interesting places. This time around, before I drove up to Alger to grab a paper copy and after a thorough tour of medium-size town's newspaper websites*, I found myself buying a digital copy of the Scranton Times-Tribune for the above image. There went all my profit...

Crossword construction has been a great diversion for me as all of our juggling gigs have evaporated this Spring and Summer. I've made some puzzles that I think are pretty dang neat. And a few of them have been accepted for publication to boot! Stay tuned for more crossword action here on BdW.
Wednesday July 15 2020File under: crossword

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Minor Media Mentions - AMPulance Tour


In my continuing Minor Media Mentions series, Della and I made it to this week's Anacortes American! The article was about the recent event we did with the Anacortes Music Project where we went around to 6 different neighborhoods and did a short show (half circus, half music). The event went really well, and despite us being sorely out of performing shape*, we had a great time.

So far, 2020 is shaping up to be a pretty slow year for Della and me, juggling-wise. Almost all of our events have been cancelled or seriously scaled back. A few new gigs have trickled in (a birthday party here, a mini-celebration there), but all the biggies—festivals, library shows, fairs—are a no go. While it is hard to have the momentum of our career derailed, or at least put on hold, we know it could be worse. We're trying to use the downtime to stay practiced, rework acts, and even come up with a bit of new material. (Check out our instagram (@WrenAndDella) for the beginnings of our new chicken act!*)

In knowing 2020 is going to be so slow, it is nice to get this little nod from the local paper. And additionally, our good friend and AMAZING photographer Thadeus Hink, snapped some great shots!

Saturday June 20 2020File under: media, juggling

Toggle Comments (1)comment?
on Thu 25th Jun, 2020 03:37 pm EDT Horge said:
Instawhat?
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Walking Every Trail in ACFL

We here in Anacortes are blessed with an amazing resource right out our back door. The Anacortes Community Forest Lands has over 50 miles of trails that offer an amazing range of vistas, terrain, and secluded little spots. I've been hiking these trails for going on 30 years and I had imagined, with all my wandering, I had probably covered them all. But with a need for a quarantine project, I decided I needed to do it up properly.

All it took was 19 hikes, spread out over about a month, averaging about 1.5 hours for me to systematically check off all the trails. I could have probably picked a more efficient route to knock them all off, though some backtracking couldn't be avoided. But hey, it's quarantine—what else was I going to do?

I was surprised to find a few trails I didn't recognize and also be reminded of a few favorite spots. But the greatest thing about the project was that it got me out of the house (in a time that it was much needed*). I got some exercise, I got to be surrounded by the calming beauty of nature, and I fully caught up on my all podcasts. The dozens of miles hiked (along with all the biking it took to get there) didn't, however, help shed those COVID-15, but so it goes.

Now that things are starting to open back up, I plan on turning me eyes to trails further afield, trails that I haven't hiked on umpteen times (yesterday, I hiked up to Cow Heaven and got to frolic in the snow!) But it's nice to know that I'll always have a wonderful trail right in my backyard the next time the need arises.


Saturday June 6 2020File under: Anacortes

Toggle Comments (3)comment?
on Sun 07th Jun, 2020 03:30 pm EDT Horge said:
Just my Firefox, or do the first three images (linked to "all the trails") not work? I can see the rest, but for them get an eternally loading thing...
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on Sun 07th Jun, 2020 05:12 pm EDT Wren said:
Horge, you should consider a job in QA/Testing. Lord knows BdW could use that...and a proofreader... and a graphics guy...and a better blogger...and a photo model.
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on Tue 09th Jun, 2020 12:45 am EDT Andrew said:
Don't leave me in suspense! What did Kilowatt Kitty say?
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My Homemade Quilt

Last night, Della and I got to sleep under my homemade quilt for the first time. Ten-ish years in the making*, I'm super stoked to have it completed. It incorporates T-shirts from many different aspects of my life and I'm excited to have it as a usable treasure for the rest of my life!

Even now, writing this post, I can get lost in all the memories represented: Key Club, juggling festivals, Palmyra, my dad's cafe, high school dances, family reunions, college, travels, long-past musical obsessions, and so much more. I had been holding onto these shirts, not knowing what to do with them but not wanting to throw them away. It [very] eventually turned into this project and I'm so glad it did.

I am not a master at the sewing machine. I don't think this quilt will be winning any bees any time soon. With all that I learned during the process, a second attempt would be much quicker and better. Seam allowances, accurate cutting, and actual planning, things one may think are obvious, are now finally obvious to me. Enough notable shirts didn't make it into this version that a second project isn't out of the questions (though how many quilts does one need?). But even with its imperfections, this quilt keeps us warm and makes me smile so I'm pleased as punch.

I hesitate to call this a "quarantine project", as so much of the thought and work went into it before outside life went into hibernation. But I also am pleased that there will forever been this association between this project I hope to have until I die with this crazy time in history. It will help remind me what one can do with time and ideas and how to make the best out of any situation.

But in the end, I really just wanted to show you my quilt that I'm really proud of.

Friday May 29 2020File under: misc

Toggle Comments (1)comment?
on Sun 07th Jun, 2020 03:23 pm EDT Horge said:
Yeah, Bates!
I saw the Moxie on there, but no Orange Whip? Any frisbee on there at all?
But cool quilt. My sister made me a huge one (maybe 2x2 yards?) years ago with old T-shirts - mine has a bunch from my childhood, including one of my baby shirts. But I've thought about making an updated one eventually for our boy, this time myself. Just gotta start collecting t-shirts, re-learning how to sew, buying a sewing machine... Can't wait for pandemic 2026! :-)
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Best Extra-ing Ever - Three Busy Debras

Being an extra in TVs and movies has been a goal of mine for some time now (previously covered on BdW here, here, and here). I dream about it, I tell everyone I know about it (in hopes they've got an inside connection), and I meticulously capture each appearance. While progress toward my ultimate goal is moving at a pace slower than I'd originally hoped, I'm at least making some headway.

Of the dozen or so times I've gotten the opportunity to be a part of various commercials, shows, and movies, my time on Three Busy Debras is easily the most fun I've had! Some sets are a lot of waiting, less-than-ideal conditions, and , in the end, very little (if any*) screen time*. This time around, it was different: Della got to be there for 2 of the 4 days of filming, we got to do cartwheels(!), all the other extras were super fun, and the show is a genuine hoot! Top that off with lots of great screen time in the finished product, it feels like a total win.

Often, when the show finally comes out, I meticulously watch for myself only to catch a far away glimpse in the far background (or even less). It's a weird kind of craps shoot—putting in long, inconvenient days with a chance that all of your footage might end up on the cutting room floor. So when you see yourself not just in the far off background, but in the mid-background, and *gasp* foreground, it is really really fun. Top that off with the fact that the show itself is super entertaining and it feels like a perfect combo.

I plan to continue working towards my goal*. I've got a clip or two still in the pipeline. And my agent is still working hard on my behalf*. But after 4+ years in the biz, I realize that waiting around probably isn't going to make me a background star. I need to get out there and work for it! But whatever happens, of course you'll hear all about it here.
Monday April 27 2020File under: extra, video

Toggle Comments (2)comment?
on Sun 07th Jun, 2020 03:28 pm EDT Horge said:
I like that in the cartwheels photo, it kinda looks you're giving birth to that old man.
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on Thu 25th Jun, 2020 03:36 pm EDT Horge said:
Hey Wren, just saw an article (linked above) and thought of you. Think you can swing yourself a work-visa for NZ? Seems they're looking for extras to be in the Lord of the Rings series from Amazon they're making. But don't worry, it wasn't this quote which reminded me of you “facial burns, long skinny limbs, acne scars, deep cheekbones, a bulbous or interesting nose, ears that stick out, facial lines, missing bones, large eyes, skinny faces, and more” but rather “androgynous men and women, hairy HAIRY people of all ages and ethnicities, CIRCUS PERFORMERS WHO CAN JUGGLE, stocky mean-looking bikers, and red heads of all ages, shapes, and sizes.” If you want the job, give 'er a try - not sure about burning your face or removing bones in order to up your chances, though...
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My Circus Valentine 2020 Act

The My Circus Valentine show at the Bellingham Circus Guild is one of the not-to-be-missed events of the year. I've had the privilege being part of the show the last bunch of years and I always like to share what Della and I came up with for an act. This year, we decided on Star Wars* as our theme (only partially as an excuse to buy $1000 worth of fancy juggling clubs).

The act turned out great, if a little high difficultly level. The moment when the lights go down, the beat kicks up, and the clubs start to blink really brought the energy out of the crowd. This video, captured by the David and his awesome team at Access Bellingham, was during the first official run of the show and we dropped our hardest trick (back-to-backs). But hopefully it gives you an idea of the act. If nothing else, at least it is captured here for posterity*.


And here are a few pictures for fun. The photo booth run by Jeff Lefferts produces some of Della's and my favorite photos of the year.

Wednesday March 18 2020File under: juggling, holidays

Toggle Comments (2)comment?
on Wed 18th Mar, 2020 05:22 pm EDT robin schultz said:
I luv you guys.
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on Wed 25th Mar, 2020 11:18 am EDT Hope O'Hara said:
amazing!

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Recent Comments:
*Horge on This is 41
*Horge on Money Map
*rus on This is 41
*Chris on This is 41
*Horge on Minor Media Mentions - AMPulance Tour

Recent Content:
*The Real Food Show Video
*Money Map
*This is 41
*Sleeping Around 2019-2020
*Sunday Universal Crossword By Me!
*Minor Media Mentions - AMPulance Tour
*Walking Every Trail in ACFL
*My Homemade Quilt
*Best Extra-ing Ever - Three Busy Debras
*Ghostbusters Halloween Circus Act

Websites du Friends:
* Wren and Della
Della and my juggling website
* The Real Food Show
A circus-inspired elementary assembly show to teach kids about healthy eating
* Della Moustachella
Della's performance website
* The Fun Bags
Della and Sadye's Performance Troupe


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