Saturday, August 4, 2007

Highland Games!

Today was a good day. Today was a bad day...very much like the wheel of fortune. Things were never totally assured.

I started my day at 5am, having slept fitfully, rising with my hubby to shower and prep for the day. He showered first and left for work. It was too dark at the time to snap his picture, so you'll just have to imagine one weary man, waking up early on a Saturday to go in to work. I'm so sorry, but I don't like overtime. I showered after he left, and realized that I had a tickle in my throat. Oh, no, not a sinus infection! Not today! I got my wheel, and my fiber, my tarot cards, my camera, my sunglasses, my Cascade 220 and pattern for John Anderson Kilt Hose, needles, cell phone and bluetooth (which died on me), and two chairs for us to sit in. Ray was to bring the vehicle, pop and water, a light snack and his drum, because he was competing.

I snapped his picture in the basement hallway, just as we prepared to leave.

After packing the car, we were off to the races, with a quickie stop at the gas station for a light breakfast.
Driving down the road, we watched the sun rise over the horizon, and I was reminded of a Robert Frost poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay":

Nature's first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower, but only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief.
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

It was repeated in a book called "The Outsiders", a book I read in junior high school. I put the poem to music on guitar, and used to sing it all the time. It's a poem about youth, and how quickly it fades.

On the way, I asked the tarot how Ray would do in competition. I had no idea how many would be competing against him. I pulled the 10 of pentacles, which is a card of "completion" of effort and achievement in a chosen course of study. No longer the apprentice, now the master level. I predicted that Ray would win in his competition.

We arrived about 8am at our destination. Notice that while there are lots of tents, there are no bodies yet.

We unloaded the car, and set up, as we usually do, parking the car close to our site while unloading. However, when I jumped into the car to move it to the parking lot, disaster strikes. The car wouldn't start. Ray tried it too, after all, sometimes owners know the quirks of their own cars, right? But he had no better luck. For all intents and purposes we were stranded. The police came around, and told us we had to move the car. They tried to start it too. No luck. They told us the soonest they could call a wrecker to come in to help us would be after the games--at 6pm! Well, of course, by that time, there wouldn't be a place open to FIX the car for us. I made a mental note...never take Ray's car to a distant site again.
I made the best of things, as I normally do, sat down in my chair and began to spin, then decided to work on Ray's Kilt Hose, while he moseyed over to the drumming competition, sure that he would not do well with this recent turn of events. In the meanwhile, a weaver from the Michigan Weaver's Guild showed up with her floor loom. Since I didn't feel she would want to be memorialized on my blog, I only snapped the loom. She was working on a herringbone twill fabric, which was quite intricate and looked difficult. She demonstrated to a number of young and old, and I demo'd the spinning wheel, in between rows of the socks. She brought 5 bobbins of weft yarn, and was done with it by noon. She left me all alone after that. Somewhere during this time, Ray returned from his competition, and informed me that Angus LongPhee was judging drumming today! Now I haven't seen Angus in quite some time, as he had moved to Florida, and I thought I'd never see him again. But there he was in all his glory. I gave him a big hug (even though he couldn't quite place who I was), and snapped his picture.

From there, Ray and I moved on to the heavy athletics field. While there are a fair number of Scottish Heavy Events, the favorite of most is the cabre toss. A cabre is a long pine telephone pole, which is very heavy, weildy, and generally moves in unison with the forces of gravity. The athlete has to wrap his hands around the pole, balance it against his shoulder in a perpendicular to the earth position, move his hands down close to the bottom of the pole, and swiftly pick it up. This is called a successful "pick". Once picked, the pole has to be steadied in the hands of the athlete (no mean feat there), and then walked, then run forward as gravity takes over and begins to tilt the pole toward the earth. At a precise moment, the athlete tosses the cabre into the air, hoping to toss it, end over end, in a straight forward manner. The competitor to toss the cabre in this way in a 12 o'clock position, wins. The competitors are allowed 3 tries, and the game is scored. If the cabre does not fall end for end, then the degrees are calculated. I was able to snap some pics of the prep for tossing, and even the actual "pick", but they get to running so fast, that I just couldn't deal with the actual toss. However, many even in the amateur competition, were able to complete the toss at least once in thier 3 tries.

After this, Ray and I bumped into some friends from our band who were competing with another band this year, and we spent some time chatting in the sun. Ray decided after a bit that he was going to head back to the car. One of the friends, Pat and I decided to go shopping. We found lots of things to buy, and I found a couple of items that I did indeed purchase. I found a pewter drummer on a key chain to go with my pewter piper. I snatched that one up in a hot tamale minute! At another store, I started to hunt for a new Sgian Dubh. I had lost my Sgian Dubh (pron. skein doo, which is gaelic for "small black knife"), so I hunted for a new one, happening across one that was just beautiful, and I asked the shop keeper..."how much?" Now, Pat and I had been asking him about several items in his "store", and when he told me the price, I thought that he was kidding with me.


And I replied "oh, no, seriously, really, how much!?"
"No", he replies..."it really is $450. It's carved from ebony."
"Oh!", both Pat and I exclaim in unison. Pat looks at me, and tells me I have expensive taste! I reply, "You've got that right, expensive taste WAY beyond my budget!" We both laughed. I asked him if I could touch it, and he handed it to me. I looked it over, and it's got a smokey quartz stone in the hilt, and I tell the store operator that there should be a diamond in there! He countered with "and then it would cost even more!"

Sigh. Yes, I imagine so...
From there, Pat had to head off to practice with the drum corps in her competition effort, and I stopped at another tent to buy a "dubh" of a cheaper make and model, then headed back for my wheel with my treasures. When I meet Ray at the tent, he's sulking over the car, and I offered perhaps he could go visit with Angus again to see how he did in the competition. So, to get the car off his mind, that's exactly what he proceeded to do. I sat down and began to spin in earnest.

In the area where the Weaver's Guild and I sat, there are re-enactors and a special "kid's games" Battle of Culloden game that is held every year. Here are a couple of the ringleaders. These guys and their wives have a stash of toy "weapons" by which the children, being rather overloaded with a variety of weapons (namely a wooden rifle and single shot pistol, a shield, a dirk (knife about a foot long) and a broadsword--which is usually longer than the child is tall!)will charge the English first with the rifle (the crowd yells "BANG!"), then the one shot pistol (another BANG!) at the end of a 50 foot running course, and eventually with broadsword in one hand, dirk and shield in the other, will run down said courseway yelling all the way in a true highlander fashion (SHRIEK!) meant to scare the opponent at the end of the courseway, and tap the Englishmen (stuffed, of course) on the shoulder with the broadsword, indicating defeat of the English. (Writer's note: In actuality, the English won this battle, but it's cute to watch the kids rush those English soldiers...BOO!) While I watched the coming and going of people, a lady passed by with some Scottish Westies. They were so cute in their little get-ups that I just had to take a pic! There were also the standard Gordon Setters and Bearded Collies, Border Collies and Highland Bovines...cows, that is.

Ray returned from his chat with Angus, and Blue Medal in hand! He won! The tarot was right again! (Writers Note: I wanted to get a pic of his medal, as it was quite large--bigger than a silver dollar, and on a hefty blue ribbon, but he wanted to get home before I could snap the pic.)

Another friend of mine took a second place in his grade, a medal he was very proud of, as he was wearing it when we were talking, and I totally missed it until he showed it to me. I gave him a high five in congratulations.

Around now, Ray decides to go and watch the band competitions. I stretch out in the chair and fell asleep, my mouth hanging open, and I waken, about an hour later, sure that I was drooling, snoring and simply totally gross. I was tired, and the heat was a bit much. My throat is killing me, and I'm starving. I feel like I might have a fever, and wished fervently that Ray would return from the playing field, and see me starving, head over to get me a meat pie or a bridie. About 20 minutes later, he did show up. We couldn't decide what we wanted to do at this point. It was almost closing ceremonies, and still no idea how things were going to work about the car.
About this time, one of the local police shows up, climbs into Ray's car, and turns the key over, and the car started.


And even though there were a great many things that I didn't have the time to review and document here, such as the opening and closing ceremonies, where all the massed bands play, the highland dance competitions, the drum/pipe/band competitions, the drum salutes, the judges, the country dancers, the country singers, playing ballads on guitar, the tug of war between the local fire workers and the marines, the food, the beer tent, the clan tents, the dog trials and agility, the crafts, the staff who tried really hard to give us help, I tell you, the list goes on. There was something for everyone there! I feel like I missed everything being slightly sick and tired.

Well, as you might guess, we packed and headed out for home, stopping only long enough to grab a bite at a nearby McDonald's, using the drive through, so we didn't have to turn off the engine, worried that we might not get the car going again.
On the way, we stopped at my workplace to pick up my chanter, pipe music and directions to tomorrow's "gig". Called my son to let him know what time to meet us at the corner, and then headed to my house. We unloaded the car again, leaving it running, and then Ray quickly departed. I hope that I see him in the morning....and, true to form, I have a 99.1 degree fever. I feel lousy, and have to perform tomorrow.

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