Saturday, May 24, 2014


Miss Pickles holds soldier (l) and pirate swords.
Like people, balloons exhibit different behaviors depending on their circumstances. For instance, balloons are surprisingly weather-sensitive. In cold temperatures, anything below about 62 degrees, they inflate reluctantly and practically wither during the twisting process. They also appear slightly smaller once inflated, as if the air molecules are huddling together inside the balloon to keep warm.

In warmer weather, balloons inflate easily and fully, but one must be mindful of exposure (nope, I don't mean sunscreen). While balloons share Miss Pickles' legendary love for heat, they do not behave well in direct sunlight, exploding with alarming frequency. That's why I typically request an awning or shady spot for outdoor events. At one festival in Tennessee, with temps at a sizzling 94 degrees, I twisted contentedly beneath my awning with few to no pops. See, like me, balloons dig heat.

In addition, like most of us, balloons prefer careful handling. Excessive or rough twisting (yes, there is such a thing) or handling a balloon with sharp nails or craggy fingers will usually not produce desired results. Smooth hands and gentle twisting, pulling balloon segments apart slightly while twisting (this also lessens that squeaky scrapey sound that makes people flinch) leads to beautiful creations more than poppage. (Is that a word? Well, it is now.)

Last weird tidbit, I find that balloons fare better when blown up by mouth versus the hand pump. Now, I'm an avid hand pump user myself, but I've witnessed that there's something about those moist saliva molecules that increases a balloon's chance of survival. Strange but true. Perhaps my science friends at Big Thinkers could explain why … stay tuned and keep twisting!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Culture Club

Some of my best Miss Pickles memories come from what the children say to me. I recently did a double-header, two gigs in one day, both birthday parties for little boys. The first event was held in the clubhouse of a nice subdivision; my clients, a stunning young family from India. I say stunning because they were lavishly adorned in rich silks and vibrant emerald, turquoise, and magenta fabrics, often trimmed in gold or sequins or gems. And not just the husband and wife … everyone from the children to the grandparents looked absolutely beautiful. Most of the men wore ornate silk tunics, the women, with glorious black hair, glowed in cultural garb, some with gems on their foreheads. The little girls wore bright dresses and such adorable shoes, I wondered where they shopped.

While many of the children seemed shy and hid behind their mother or father as I twisted a balloon for them, one surprisingly tall four-year-old came boldly. She smiled her magnificent smile and asked for a swan. She began helping me by staging the clubhouse with the flower, the heart pole, the teddy bear I just made. I painted a pretty butterfly on her cheek, to match her emerald outfit, and kept making balloons for her little brother, who enjoyed squeezing the life out of them. After the first hour, when I had a lull in shy customers wanting balloons or body art, my little friend sat with me for a chat. Flat out, she asked, “Do you know that we're from India?” I told her, “Yes,” waiting for her to ask how I knew, but she never did. She simply smiled, satisfied that I knew. I marveled at her inherent pride in her heritage, love for her family, and generosity of heart. She demonstrated a quality that reminded me of what Jesus said in Matthew 19:14--“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Miss Pickles on Moving to GA

Sometimes the most unexpected occurrences can be blessings in disguise. Moving to Georgia last summer, although quite unexpected, brought me closer to family and into the company of friends I treasure. It also kicked off a boon for Miss Pickles, my beloved clown character, who has twisted balloons and painted faces for more than 40 clients since September 2013.

As a child, I never aspired to becoming a clown. For children, it isn't a life goal like fireman or teacher because they often do not see clowns or other costumed characters as 'real' people. This surprises me since children typically live out their days in a fantasy of one sort or another. It seems the caped, tutu-wearing masses could easily slip into the role of clown if they so desired. But how many children see their parents as clowns? How many have wacky clothes, painted faces, and balloon-twisting skills modeled to them?The comments and questions I get are priceless. "Are you a real clown?"  "Can I take a picture with you?" Usually adults ask that. "You are the coolest person I've ever seen at IKEA." Ok, yes, I sometimes shop as Miss Pickles, but I'll discuss those adventures in a future blog. Suffice it to say, I enjoy interacting with children (and adults) as Miss Pickles because, even after 20 years of clowning, I can never predict what someone's going to say to me. It's kind of awesome.

All that to say, moving to Georgia, while an adjustment, has kept me busier than Miss Pickles has ever been. The location, great weather, and beautiful venues offer me more opportunities than imaginable. So, after nine months here, I believe I can finally call Georgia home. Thanks for the grand welcome, y'all!

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