Monday, May 26, 2008

Flint Wins Again and Again!

Well you wouldn't believe it, but Saturday started out like any other day--except that I woke up at my friend Ray's house in Alma Michigan, and he and I ate breakfast after Mandy went outdoors for potty--really basic and usual, but that's where life sort of ended being a same thing different day "attitude", and things got really interesting.

Since I don't have my own kilt yet, I had to dress in most of my gear and jeans at the house, and when Ray finished getting ready we took off for the festival grounds and parked the car. Then we began the tedious job of hunting down Flint's "meet up" place. We finally found some of the band and the meet up place, and I moved the car to a closer spot before unloading and setting things up.

Shortly after this, one of the members showed up with her kilt, and asked me if I was competing today, and handed me her kilt. I finished putting on my gear, right there in the open. Once dressed, I set out to find a Glen Gerry for my head. I found one, but it cost me more than any other hat I've ever bought! Things are always so much more expensive on festival grounds.

We set up for massed bands. I don't remember seeing Grand Rapids IN massed bands, and I played with the Grade V bunch. The Bass Drummer looked down at my drum and pointed out that one of the lugs had come off the rim, so I resolved to fix that when I returned to the meeting place. In the meanwhile, the Drum Instructor, Ted, was freaking out because he didn't know that was on the other side of the field. When everyone got back, they were looking for me (meaning the Grade IV bunch), and I was right behind them fixing the lug and listening to them practice. Once I got my lug fixed on the drum, I started to enter the circle, and Ted warned me back, so I practiced outside the circle. When the medley was done, Ted turned on me.

Now remember, I was playing with the Grade V bunch--apparently he thought I knew that I was supposed to go out into massed bands with the Grade IV bunch, but quite honestly, I don't know everyone, and I wondered where everyone else was, because I thought Grade IV and V played on the left side of the field--but apparently, Grade IV was on the right side of the field.

Well, I got a huge "talking to", and was basically told off--because nobody in Grade IV knew where was--so when Ted came to "Do you understand that, Tenna?", all I said was "yes sir!", and went back to sit down.

Flashback: A couple of days ago, I let my dog out, and she took off before I got the rope untangled from the peony bushes, and the rope slipped through my fingers and burned me in the first fold of my finger, which left a 2nd degree blister there.

Back to the Present: On game day, when I took a bath, that blister filled with fluid and broke. So I had a big sore on my flourishing finger! This was a not a nice injury, and it really smarted, so I started to look around for a band-aid from some of the "crew", and one of the drum majors said they had some in their RV across the street, and since they had none on the grounds, the DM and I walked to his RV to get bandaids (he had sliced open his finger on the chain on his mace--which was bleeding quite a bit!). I didn't have any clue what time it was, but once arriving at the RV, I saw that it was 2:15, and I knew that we were "on" for competition at 2:20!!! OH NO!

I got 20 feet from the competition, when I saw my group march in to compete.

You gotta know I ran across the compound to get there, and put the drum down and sat directly in the grass and cried. This competition was so important to me, because I knew that my sister would be watching from somewhere, and also knew that my ex-husband was out there as well (as it turned out, he wasn't), so this was a huge disappointment for me. Ray came by, and asked if I was okay, then Ed came out when competition was over, and had this huge smile, and asked me what happened. You see, I just knew this sort of thing would happen. I felt like I'd let everybody down by being a wimp, and I don't know, everyone was so glad it was over--

My friend, Sharon told me not to talk to Ted about it because nobody realized that I was even gone, so I sort of steered clear of Ted when we got back to the meeting place.

Unfortunately, Ted saw me. I figured I was a goner.

And he says is "Listen, I get really fired up on games day, and I was just "sounding off". You didn't think that I meant you couldn't play in competition, did you?"

The man was actually apologizing (sort of) for yelling at me earlier!

I explained my reason for missing it, apologized for the misunderstanding, and that it would all work out.

Later, after food and beer and sitting down for a long bit, the closing ceremonies started. This time, I went out with the grade IV bunch, and we went out on the field playing a 6/8--"Bonnie Dundee".

Grade V took 2nd place.
Grade IV took another first place.

We beat Windsor Police!

We partied hearty at the beer tent afterward. On arriving to the meeting place, I found someone had run off with one of my folding chairs. So Ray, Sharon and I loaded our gear in the cars and headed back to Ray's house to watch the Redwings win their competition with the Penguins 4-0. Huge game. HUGE. One of Sharon's friends got lost three times trying to find Ray's house to watch the game, but finally arrived in time to watch them score two more goals!

Then it was off to bed to prepare for Sunday's competition.

Sharon bought me breakfast at the cafeteria, even though I had eaten waffles at Ray's house, and we sat with others in the band and Bill Marsh from Grand Rapids. It's funny, because the only people from Grand Rapids that DIDN'T talk with me were the Pipe Major and the Drum Sergeant. Why doesn't that surprise me?

On Sunday, Ted decided that I needed to wear a different kilt. The one I was wearing was really too short, and while I was gearing up, he had me head to the Drum Majors (believe it or not, we have 3 of them!) truck to get a kilt that fit me better. I ended up in the DM's kilt (not to complain, but it smelled of cigar!), and after closing ceremonies, he cut short my celebrating by telling me to return it--as he was going to wear it Monday in the parade. I was dumbstruck. I hadn't expected to have to return it immediately after, and hadn't brought my jeans with me. So I had to drive back to Ray's, change, then come back, but I'm getting WAY ahead of the day and myself...

We formed up for competition, and decided to march right through Windsor Police's practice area on our way to the competition circle playing loud and long, and that's exactly what we did, both grade IV and grade V! When we got close to the last minute check your drones area before actually going on, we were surprised to hear another band directly behind playing our tunes!! It turned out to be our own grade V band bringing up the rear. I look down to find out that my drum harness is coming apart! I tell you! Your gear falls apart at the worst times!

We circled up in the "last minute, check your drones" area, and worked on some startups and checked drones, did a few taps on the drums, then marched in and up to the line.

The tension was quite palpable, but I felt confident and ready, and when we started up and marching into the circle I recall feeling as cool as a cucumber.

Of course you know that I didn't breathe the entire medley.

I made a couple of mistakes, but they weren't earth shattering, and the other tenors worked with me within my mistakes to the point that it looked like we planned it that way.

Then suddenly it was over, and we were marching out.

I do remember that we sounded fantastic, but that's all I remember!

The Tenor Instructor asked me if Saturday was just one of those "too scared to compete sort of things", and I told him "oh heck no!" and explained my day to him too.

We hung about, took some pictures for memorial purposes, and then headed back to the meeting place and sat down. Too soon, the closing ceremonies came, and we met up on the right side of the field, and marched out for the closing ceremonies massed bands one last time.

The weather had cooled down a little and we all stood in a slight breeze while the announcer called off the winners.

Two of our people won in Grade III and Grade IV piping, and we took first place as a band

AGAIN beating Windsor Police. Grade V took second.

On both days, the grade IV band marched past Grand Rapids line, and I twirled my sticks in the trickiest ways while I marched past smiling from ear to ear.

Take that! See what you lost by dismissing me?

We headed back to the beer tent to celebrate--stopping momentarily to take pictures with this huge trophy and 4 silver plates. Flint's name gets put on a placque for that trophy--and we get our picture in the local paper!

I caught up with Zack from Grand Rapids/Ann Arbor Pipes and Drums (he's my old snare drum instructor) and he bought me a Guinness for winning in Grade IV both days.

Then I headed back to the car to go to Ray's to change into my civies to return the kilt to its owner, then we loaded up the car to head back to Ray's house.

Ray wanted to take me to dinner, but I was beat, so I just packed and thanked him for letting me stay, and took off with my dog--and my dog and I headed down the road for hearth and home.

Two very happy days....full of competition, joy, camaraderie, friends, celebration and "ha-ha's".

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