Today tastes like pot roast with onions, carrots, and potatoes. Like pink Zinfandel and cloves. Like french onion soup with three kinds of cheese.
It's funny--we celebrate the longest night of the year in a ginormous way, here in the Judeo-Christian community. We have Hannukka and Christmas (Saturnalia, December 17-22; Larentalia, December 23; and Brumalia, December 25). Lots of fun in the winter, when the days are short and the nights are long, and the holly king bestrides this hemisphere.
However, there's nothing so large and well-known connected with the summer solstice. (Yes, yes, it IS the feast day of John the Baptist. Show me the "Merry John Day" cards, the wrapping paper and traditional gifts, recipies for John the Baptist cookies and candy. Head-shaped cake on a platter, anyone??)
(Oh, come on, it's better than the traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs and brains, isn't it?)
So some friends of ours (Antipathy and Amity) have commenced celebrating the polar opposite of Yule--Lhyr. During Lhyr, one of the traditional activites involves masks. And revlery. And foolishment. (Funny, all of our holidays seem to include foolishment, to some degree.)
Lyhr was planned as a sit-down dinner with a handful of pals, a hidden festival. The highlight of the evening would be a mask contest, at which point the winners would be crowned the Fool of Lyhr and the Queen of Lyhr, to rule until Lyhr 2008.
Heh. Yes, that would be my "Competitive Perfectionist" button, right there in the middle of my forehead. (And you thought that was a bindhi!)
So . . . nothing would do but I win the competition. Hadda hadda hadda. I don't play often, but when I do, it's important to me to win. Yes, yes, I AM three, why do you ask?
So I made a mask out of paper mache.
Like many things, that sentence says nothing about the work that took place unless you know the kind of elbow grease that paper mache entails. There's a reason that the masks from Venice cost between $40 for a simple domino and $100 for something full-face. It's not the paint, it's not the trim, it's the sanding.
The sanding, sanding, sanding, sanding, sanding. You build a base of strips two-three layers deep and let that get good and dry. You add a layer of fine-grained pulp (we found cheap white toilet paper works wonders here) and let THAT get good and dry. You paint a layer of gesso on, and once THAT'S finally dry, you take out the pebbly sandpaper and start smoothing.
Gesso again, dry again, go down in grit, and sand. Lather, rinse, repeat until you get a good smooth finish without the lumpy-bumpy ick that is inherent to paper mache.
Then one last coat of gesso, and you're ready to paint.
And yes, I did indeed win the Lhyr Queen's tiara.
I've been told I do NOT need to relinquish the tiara to the next year's Queen (mumbles "Cold dead hands . . ") nor do I need to provide a tiara next year--just be available to judge. I can do that. I'm very judgemental. (That probably didn't come out right . . .)
Ah, but I want to make a tiara for next year's Queen. I think that would be a cool thing to (1) do, (2) incorporate into the festivities. And well, if once is the thing itself, and twice is the way we've always done it, and three times is tradition--I need to get off the stick and inspire a couple of followers so we can keep Lhyr 2010 the traditional way, with last Lhyr's couple presenting the Fool's Cap and the Queen's Tiara that they themselves created.