Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Day in the Life of Hot Air Balloon Crew

4:30 AM.  Alarm sounding, softly, louder and louder.  Roll out of bed, still dark out.  Use a flashlight to find clothes set out night before, get dressed, brush teeth, put on shoes, pour coffee in mug and head out.

before dawn

Lancaster Balloonport

Load up the truck with the basket (burners already assembled on basket), envelope (balloon) and fans.  Pull out to the grassy yard and start setting up.  Basket is dropped off, burners checked and in working order and then the envelope is laid out.


burner check

envelope laid out

The envelope is pulled out from the sides and the skirt is held back and the mouth opened ready to receive air from the fans.

fans on and air is a-blowin'

full of cold air (outside looking in)

At this point I am holding the mouth of the envelope open to receive the air, so snapping pictures is very difficult (but I did manage to capture some photos).  After the balloon is inflated with cool air, the burners are turned on and the flames heat the air to lift the balloon upright.  The balloon is filled with just enough heat to remain upright until the pilot can get permission for lift off.  6 AM, sunrise, ready for take off.

radio to the tower to get permission for lift off

up, up, up and away!

At this point the crew buttons up the building, putting away the fans and we pile into the truck and get to chasing!!  We keep in contact with the balloon by radio and stay on roads close by.  Today we took off at the Lancaster Airport and landing was just outside Manheim off 772.  Flights are generally an hour give or take depending on finding a suitable landing spot.  The crews job is to follow closely and be waiting at the landing spot the pilot has picked out.  Today's landing was in the parking lot of an elementary school.  Landings have been in the middle of roads, farmer fields, backyards, parks, anywhere away from power lines.

one more shot before tear down
releasing the hot air

The basket is tipped back on its side, the hot air released from the deflation port at the top of the envelope and as the balloon slowly empties the crew packs the envelope into a neat rope like package ready to be stuffed back in the envelope bag for storage until the next flight.  The basket is loaded back onto the truck and off we go back to our starting point.  7:30 AM arrival.

And then we do it all again tomorrow.  Crew is important in the whole process, we put the balloon together, help inflate it and assist the pilot as he or she needs us.  Needless to say, my hands were full today and it was GREAT getting back out there, I can't wait to do it all again tomorrow!

If you or somebody you know is interested in a hot air balloon ride you may contact the Lancaster Balloonport here and read more about the pilots, history, etc.

Friday, June 27, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred seventy-eight

Getting there.  Still not quite satisfied. A few things I still need to make changes.

Hot Air Ballooning

Today on Facebook I saw a question, "what is your favorite thing to touch?".  For me, wind.  Simple as that.  It immediately reminded me of hot air ballooning.  Since I was a kid I have grown up around hot air balloons.  My parents friends owned a few and we always helped out.  As I got older I started helping out more with crewing for hot air balloons in the early mornings on weekends.  Ballooning is a lot of work.  Fun work.  I spent every weekend getting up before sunrise, setting up balloons with the rest of the crew, chasing them for an hour or so and helping them put away. Then enjoying a nice hot breakfast with everyone.



I was able to attend the annual Wellsville, NY Balloon Rally a few times over the years and assist with setup and tear down for our friends balloons.  My parents had three sets of friends with balloons, the Millers own Stars and Stripes, Nick owns Sweet Lebanon Ballooney and Earnie and Dian own Shadowfax.  (because hot air balloon owners name their balloons!)  I have crewed for all three balloons and gotten rides in all three! (perks of crewing)

There is nothing like the breeze on your face hundreds of feet in the air.  In a hot air balloon.  Since having children I have not crewed and I am looking to get back into it again.  We take off from the balloonport at the Lancaster Airport and go wherever the wind takes us.  I am excited, if weather is nice tomorrow I will be crewing for the first time in 5 years for my old pal Nick.  And this time I will take more photos.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred seventy-seven

Getting there.  Background and blanket work today.  Coming together very nicely.  I still see work on E's jaw that I can't let rest.  Also more work on eyes. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred seventy-five

Making corrections here and there, adding more layers to the background.  Still more work to do.  Shooting for the end of the month.  Not going to let it go before I am satisfied.  Like I said, shooting for the end of the month.

This past weekend we visited our chosen family in the mountains, it was a great time and under better circumstances, and around the fire pit it was so much quieter.  Still the talking went late into the night but it was still quieter.  I lay in bed late last night unable to fall asleep.  I was thinking of how much quieter camp is now that Houd is gone.  There are more silences than any of us would prefer.  More of us are sharing jokes just to keep Houd on our minds, but it is definitely quieter without him.  As I let the silent tears roll off my cheeks wetting my pillow I heard a door close in our house.  Feeling a bit fearful since it was clearly the sound of a door shutting but not being able to discern where the sound originated I woke my husband.  He awoke with a start and searched the inside and out of the house.  Checked all the doors, none were closed that were previously open.  Then I thought of Houd again.  Then Joel.  Then Lindsay.  Then Violet. 

"Seriously... Let's just all go to heaven already"
M. Rollman

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred sixty-nine

Getting closer to completion, working on Violets beautifully handmade crocheted hat, tones and shadows on little faces and filling in background.  Still have lots of corrections and details to add.  The blanket will be the next large item on the list.  Hoping the LeDrew clan in my drawing is looking like them in real life!!

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred sixty-eight *bonus

Wasn't going to get any sleep until I fixed some shading.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred sixty-eight

Still have more lightening to do around E's mouth but the smile looks better!  See a few other places I want to fix, finish the background, work on the blanket and Violets hat.  Hoping to be complete before July begins.

Monday, June 16, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred sixty-seven

After a much needed break from everything, I am back at it.  I am finding it a bit more difficult to stick to my resolution of drawing every day now that it is summer.  Tons of things to do besides dealing with grief from the recent passing of two friends recently.  Having feelings about my own past, coming to terms with past and present events has been weighing heavily on me.  My thirty-fourth birthday was Friday the 13th (I was in fact BORN on Friday the 13th), full moon accompanied my special day.  I decided to attend a guided and channeled meditation.  Finally feeling cleared of all my expectations, negative feelings and guilt I carry around, I am feeling better, more focused and less stressed. 

I still wasn't fully happy with E's lips so I set to work on them, as well as D and E's eyes and background. Besides Violets hat, she is pretty well complete.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred sixty-three

Thinking of Neil today, and thinking of my Pap, and Violet, and Joel, and Lindsay, and my Nan.  Thinking of the Brubakers and the Engroffs and Leigh.  Thinking of all my beloved friends and family that have passed today and THEIR loved ones that passed.  Do I only draw deceased?  No, I don't.  I draw dogs, butterflies, frogs, wolves, Jimi Hendrix and babies across wide seas. And I do draw deceased.  It feels morbid sometimes and other times healing.  There is a certain morbidity that comes with death, but also a remembrance of fond times and the beautiful souls that once touched our lives.  Do I missed my loved ones?  Of course.  That is why this year I draw them.  And I am fitting in a special friend that has the most b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l birthmarks I have ever seen.  I love it.  I wish I had more freckles on my face.  You are beautiful.  There is beautiful everywhere.  Just have to open your eyes.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred sixty-one *bonus

Could NOT leave her little lips in such disarray.  I believe I have them mostly straightened out.  For now.  I already see changes I want to make to D and E!  Violet seems to be the only one that I am  most content with at this time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred sixty-one

Still working on E's lips and mouth.  Immensely dissatisfied.  Tones, shadows, lines I am not finding suitable and will keep working that area until I am happy with it.  Uninterrupted time is eluding me....I hope to get some solid one on one time with her.  With all the textures, patterns, the least of my worries was lips.  Ha.

Monday, June 9, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred sixty

Still working on E's tones.  Happy with Violet and D's faces for now.  Lighting went all dark on me.  I love me some LOUD thunderstorms.  Here is to hoping for a righteous storm complete with thunder and lightening.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The OCD train has stopped at the station and is blowing the whistle!!!

I see so many dang things that I need to correct!!!!  Sometimes I feel like I am making it worse, not better.  Of course that is just my insecurities surfacing about the "inbetween" stage of my drawing being seen by sooooo many people!!!

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred fifty-nine

Making corrections to facial features today, trying to get the shadows just "so".  D's face is starting to look great, Violets only needs small fixes and E's face tones need lightened.  Wanting to feel content with their faces before I forge ahead with background.  Was thinking about you all that attended the Sweet Pea Sisters and Brothers Picnic yesterday.  Love to all.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred fifty-eight

More layering of tones.  Working on darkening and catching up the lighter shades as well.  Started to fill in the background and hair. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred fifty-six

Adding more layers of darker tones here and there.  Worked late last night which I try not to do since the lighting isn't as good as is during the day.  I have to use an extra lamp to see and prefer to make minor changes.  My husband loathes the extra lamp due to the immense glare it creates on the television.  Pfffft.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred fifty-five

Worked mostly on the blanket surrounding Violet and her hat.  Trying out textures, techniques and it is going to just take time.  Like most things of value in life.  Probably this is my most challenging drawing yet.  Taking normal to a whole new level.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred fifty-four

Started D's pants and the blanket.  Fixed up E's lips for now and added more hair.  Completed more shading.  I love drawing.  Even on my worst days it takes me away, far away.  I get lost in my subjects eyes, find myself smiling with them and hear their giggles fading away.

Monday, June 2, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred fifty-three

Using a softer drawing pencil I darkened lines on eyes, lips, nostrils, small shadows and blended softer shadows.  A little rusty after two weeks of setting aside drawing.  Much needed break but not a wanted break. 

I lost my friend, Lindsay that I met over twenty years ago to complications from surgery on May 9.  Her doctors had discovered a brain tumor that may have been growing since she was very young.  She was told there may be many years of life left.  A biopsy was performed and shortly after she passed from too much blood on the brain.  Ten days later on May 19 my husbands childhood friend, Joel died in a car wreck.  Both deaths unexpected and huge losses for all.  Both were caring, generous, thoughtful, loyal, friendly, loving, full of pure heart.  Both left behind young children and spouses.

So with a heavy heart these last two weeks I did not want to touch this drawing and fill it with my sadness.  On May 27 I learned that a mama from my MOPS group lost her precious baby at 31 weeks pregnancy. 

Hold your babies tight, speak softly with kind words and turn your love light on.

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