Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stormy Weather

Memorial Day Weekend....kick-off to summer fun. We trekked up to Cumberland to host 13 folks at our "Bumberland B&B". Houston and I got there early on Friday because we had to put our downstairs bathroom back together, literally. The toilet was on the back porch, the cast iron sewer pipe had rusted through and needed replaced, the floor had been torn up and of course there was no water hooked up. Forrest (son) and Kim (girlfriend) came up early so we put them to work. Girls laid the floor, boys worked on sewer hookup. Amazingly we got it done, with Houston working into the night as the rest of us walked downtown to party. Sucks to be the man! Anyway, we had a houseful of guests because we were all there for Delfest, an annual bluegrass festival at the fairgrounds, just a few miles outside Cumberland. Above is a pic of the grounds, which are right above the Potomac River with rocky cliffs on the other side.

The day started out sunny, humid, and hot. We were especially psyched to see Old Crow Medidicine Show, scheduled to play around 6:00.

By mid-day we were really hot so made our way down to the river for a cool down.

Kim and I had forgotten our hats so we went to one of the vendor booths and each bought one.
We both voted for Forrest to wear his most rednecky shirt.

Cutie Kim

The Hat Boys from DC. Neither Scott or Garrett brought hats and this was a hat kind of day. They look like they were born with those hats tho.

Houston and Forrest

The food options were pretty good. Sushi, Greek, Chinese, pizza, but we chose fish tacos. Gotta love his hat!

Thought this umbrella was sorta cute but it did nothing to keep the mike dry with what was about to happen. We were peacefully sitting on the field watching Sam Bush perform, while folks were up near the stage dancing. Big smiles, foot tapping, iced coffee in hand. Good times. Clouds were gathering all day, but we welcomed them as we got a reprieve from the hot sun. It started to rain a bit, big, heavy drops. We sat a bit but then folks started to get up as the skies opened up and drenched us in two minutes. Some people stayed put, thinking it would soon pass. Forrest and Kim took off running for cover under a vendor tent, Scott and Ruth raced another direction and Sara and I stood out in the open, near the back of a tent. Garrett and Houston were serving beer in the VIP tent. We didn't have VIP passes so that area was off limits for us. A young couple (with baby in stroller) nearby had set up a small nylon tarp (about 8x8). They motioned for us to take cover under their tarp. We quickly obliged. There was barely room for the 4 adults and stroller but about 8 other people thought there was so Sara and I got to know our first storm mates. We thought we were just taking cover from a downpour but the storm had much more to throw at us. Like horizontal rain, winds that threatened to tear off our humble covering, thunder and lightening (with NO time in between!), and did I mention HAIL!!! We tried to hold the tarp down but the hail on our hands hurt, Ow! I was sort of near the center but the folks on the perimeter were getting beaten with hail.

These were our first storm mates.

In the foreground is the nice, young couple who invited us into their little storm haven. What was also amazing was that the young dad, who had set up this little covering, was out in the storm making the guide lines tighter, adjusting the tarp so that we were 'dry' inside. All the while, he was getting drenched.

And here is a total stranger with her back to the storm, protecting the wee one from the onslaught.

Sara giving the thumbs up. The storm was still young here so her spirits were up.

This was about 10 minutes into it. I think we were under this tarp for maybe 20 minutes.

I think some people had a bit of beer in them to make them immune from the pelting hail. See? Beer and a smile?!

There was a lull in the storm and we thought it had passed. Sara and I left the little tarp and thought about going to the grandstand, probably the safest place to be. But we were worried about our guys under the beer tent. We said "F'' the VIP thing and we went through the gate. By this time there were no rules anyway. One of the VIP tents had taken a big hit, like no tent anymore. But a huge red and white one had about 50 people hovering underneath, with beers in hand. I couldn't believe that Houston and Garrett were still serving beer! Here's Houston doing his darndest to keep the beer tent up.

And Garrett looking particularily macho holding down the post.

Sara and I had only sleeveless tops on since it was so hot. But by now we were shivering. Sara was happy to be reunited with Garrett.

This is the cooler of beer surrounded by hail.

Group hug trying to get Sara warm.

I had gone under the big tent and took pics of them. G & H attempted to dump the top of water and hail that collected on top. They dumped one off and everyone in the big tent pointed and mouthed "behind you!" You couldn't hear anything, the rain and hail (yes a second hail storm) was so loud. They looked back, tried to dump it but by then the tent was starting to collapse. They gave up and sprinted to the red tent while the beer tent succumbed to the wind. An hour had gone by by now. It seems that this vicious storm was just circling above us, gathering strength. The wind kept changing directions and I really did keep looking for the tell tale funnel.

Here are my second storm mates.

My feet were getting icy cold because the water was so frigid from the hail. And this was under the tent, inches of freezing cold water. Everyone was doing the one foot dance...raise one foot, then the other. At one time, the wind really came up (like hurricane force wind) and the tent started to rise up. Folks scrambled for a pole to hold it down. They were successfull.

But Sara and I couldn't take it any longer, worried that we were getting hypothermic. So we decided to make a run for the grandstand. We took off in raging winds, lightening striking very nearby, and made our way through the sea of abandoned chairs, upended tents and debris strewn helter skelter. Oh and about 6" of water! The field is surrounded by a race track and a low cement wall. The race track has impermeable dirt down as it's not as dusty when cars are racing. But this prevented the water from soaking in and it acted like a moat around the field, with about 12" of standing water. The regualr entrance is way to one side, too far to go in this weather. We had to cross the wall, then the "lake" then dash about 80 more yards to the grandstand. I had those little sandles on and had a hard time sloshing through the water. I yelled at Houston to "Take my hand! Take my hand." What a baby, but he did. I smelled propane and thought we'd have an explosion but we made it to the grandstand entrance. There were heaps of folks just standing in the entrance so we joined them. About 1o minutes later some guy told us to disperse into the stands as it was getting way too crowded. When we got to the seats, we saw Forrest and Kim for the first time since the storm began. Yay! Hugs all around! Ruth and Scott were there too. The rest of our gang (Houston's brother, Chuck, Debbie, Erik, Corey and Eric) were in the stands the entire time. I guess they're the smarter side of the family. But they didn't get to experience extreme danger on the field. This entire episode laster an hour and a half, one of the longest and most fierce storms I've ever been in. And I spent 17 years in South Dakota!!!! Storm central. I've been in a few tornadoes, many hail storms, a hurricane and too many violent thunderstorms to count, but this one we were pretty exposed ( I know, pretty stupid).

This is what we saw from the stands.

That's the red and white tent that we had been under. The beer tent can't even be seen.

These are some of the vendor tents. Unfortunately a couple of them were vendors selling beautiful wood instruments, guitars, mandolins, banjoes. I heard that many of them were ruined.

This was the field area, near where we had been sitting.

Discombobulated chairs, afloat in the water.

Whoa buddy.

What's left of the VIP tent. Notice the Coke machine.

In the foregound is the muddy moat that we had to cross.

My sister-in-law, Debbie, who was in the stands, said that when the yellow and white tent top blew off, that about 100 people sprinted out, like ants running helter skelter. Kinda funny, but since I was one of the ones running through that mess, it wasn't funny at the time.

Forrest and Kim glad to have finally found us safe and sound.

When we finally decided to leave, after rehashing the entire storm, we passed the second stage area. A river had formed behind the stage and was threatening to take the cooler, box and crate along for a ride to the big river.

Loved this beach ball that was caught in the current of this sudden stream.

The funnel cake shop was untouched.

After all was over, and a new day dawned clear and sunny, some clover folks assembled this "sculpture" of mangled tent structures. A quiet testament to the havoc that was wrought the day before. We never got to see Old Crow but heard that they played at an indoor stage at 8:00 on Saturday. Phooey! We would have definetely gone back for that. Maybe next year.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Whacky Hats

For three days last week eight members of my felting group took a felt hat workshop from Chris White at Sharon's studio in Potomac. We were taught some basics of felting, how to 'read' the wool as it you move it around, how to manipulate the fiber to create the form you want, and how to use our imaginations to fabricate a whimsical headpiece.

Chris is an amazing teacher, easy going, funny, charming, very experienced, but above all, she has the ability to really show us what to do, how to do it and have fun along the way.

She brought new wool fiber that we had not used before and we carded it together to make various colorways.

Then we got down to really felting. Some of our members are participating in "Fiber Fling" this summer, a 5-day workshop in Massachusettes. During the Fling, there's a fashion show which features felt hats. So the goal for some of us was to make a memorable hat for this fashion show. This is Zita beginning to form her "Queen of Hearts " (as we called it) hat.

Our master felter Chris, on the left, and Roz, wearing two of Roz' creations. They were both supposed to be little samples, but Roz was able to wear them anyway.

Not your typical "going to the grocery store" hat!

Sharon and Zita modeling their citrus colored hats.

...and here's the final version of the "Queen of Hearts" hat.

I'd say it looks better on the model.

Sharon's asymmetrical whimsey.

Sharon is a masterful seamstress so her final topper was really two hats: the orange one is basically a beanie-type hat, and the top layers are long pie-wedge shaped pieces, cut and sewn to go over the orange one below. She cut away peek-a-boo holes to showcase the orange beneath.

Our prolific felter, Roz, finished 3 hats.

It always amazes me how a mass of sheep's wool laid out,

roughed up on bubble wrap with soap and water, manipulated over forms,

...can become this!...after only 20 hours!!!!

a wearable, durable, amazingly hard and wonderful hat.

Paige, you are adorable!

This is Kathy's masterpiece. Kathy is a perfectionist, unlike me, who had to really struggle to keep going and make my piece tighter and tighter. The plastic pieces above are called resists, which are used wherever you don't want the fibers to felt together. Kathy made a beret, with a beautiful flower (she was going for a rose, but we thought it looked more like a poppy), as she puts flowers on all her pieces. I don't have the spacial concepts needed from taking something flat and making it 3-D. Obviously Kathy does. I could have never figured out how to do this.

and she ended up with this incredible artpiece.

ready for the runway!

JoAnne's baseball type hat was made from whatever was left over in the carding machine, a combination of everyone's wool. It's sporting a large green gecko.

Gracefull Grace designed this accordian type hat, really working the pleats to stay nice and firm.

And here is my hat-to-be. Wet wool....

to dry felt. Voila! My hat was supposed to be more outrageous, like these hats from Elina Saari. But it turned out a bit more normal.

Don'tcha think?

Along with the great company, the amazing teacher, and an awesome finished product, we ate like every meal was our last. Everyone contributed food and I gotta say, these women can cook! The 3-days was totally fun. Above are our finished hats, ready to be worn out and turn heads!