Quote of the Moment

"It's never wrong to hope, Byx," said my mother. "Unless the truth says otherwise."
- from Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate

Monday, May 25, 2009

Yet More Lame Photos

Another Memorial Day Weekend, another Northwest Folklife Festival down at Seattle Center, and another round of exceptionally pointless photographs in a rambling blog entry to commemorate the occasion. (No, this has nothing to do with the fact that I'm stuck on this year's camp logo... nothing at all... really...)

In any event, the weather cooperated remarkably well. Temperatures were in the 70's, which is infinitely better than the rainy 50's/60's or the blistering 90's we've had in previous years. Crowds seemed decent enough, but with fewer vendors and seemingly thinner stage selections it felt a trifle sparse around the edges. But it was still Folklife, as witness the Scarf Man. It ain't Folklife unless you see the Scarf Man. (He used to dance up by the Celtic stage when it was all Celtic stuff; now he hangs out on the lawn by the fountain and sells scarves rather than just dancing with them.)

We ate food and watched shows and wandered about, as usual. The following images are offered in no particular order.

Alien Instrument
Folklife features music and performers from around the world... and beyond it, as clearly evidenced here. The extra neck and strings on this extraterrestrial guitar are evidence of multiple limbs which were hidden by this scout's human form.

More Alien Evidence
No human mind could conceive of this complicated scientific instrument, which appears to be a solar-powered windmill. Whether or not the architects of this device are of the same species as the guitar player, I was unable to determine.

Bad Time to Take A Call
"So what're you doin'? .... Me? Oh, not much - playin' with my band ... My band! ... Yes, I'm playing right now! ... Oh, okay, I guess ... Nah, my solo's not for a while yet. So, what're you doin' now?"
Maybe it's just me, but if your own band bores you to the point where you'd rather talk on the cell phone than pick up your instrument and play, perhaps it's time to wrap things up.

How to Bore a Child
So, imagine you're a kid and your parents are going to take you to the museum. Not just any musuem, but a museum just for you! This, I would say, would have to be the biggest rip-off of all time. (Or maybe I grew jaded during my stocking days...)

Nordic Ship
A replica Nordic ship was on display up by the kiddie area. I cannot imagine having to spend days, weeks, perhaps even months on end in one of those things (if the Vikings-in-America theory is indeed correct.) And the fire hydrant? Well, that is a dragon head on the front - probably a wise precaution.

The Galway Ramblers
We had to sit through a couple iffy groups to get to them (including a Finnish dance band that not only didn't know the names of their own songs but seemed unable to agree on a tempo or pitch between them), but the Galway Ramblers turned out to be fairly decent. Their harpist is a world-class player, and the rest aren't bad, either.

The One-Man Band Man
Another fixture of Folkife is the one-man band guy. The picture pretty much says it all...

Video Killed the Radio Star
The live video man was back, too. Using a Playstation controller, passersby could "play" an unplugged video game. We saw him last year, but this year he had a new "game," entitled Save the Unicorn.

You get a lot of drummers at Folklife, but these guys have the best costumes (if not the best reportoire...)

Jam Session In Progress
One of the neat things about Folklife is that you never know what you'll run across. We went to what we thought would be an encore performance by the Galway Ramblers. It turned out to be a jam session with maybe 20-odd players from various groups on various instruments. There's just something hypnotic about being able to stand in the middle of live music that you just can't get anywhere else. We stood there and listened until our feet got sore, then sat and listened some more.

One of our highlights each year is Blackthorn, an energetic Celtic/folk/Canadian band. They usually set up in the street before the show to practice and earn a little extra money. (Unfortunately, they set up near the ice truck this year... made the acoustics less than ideal.)

Molasses in the Street
One of those bands you hear playing on the street and feel compelled to stop and listen to... Bluegrassy-type old time music, but they had pep. They were called Molasses, and they did indeed have a way of sticking people in the street.

Rebecca Lomnicky
The last show we saw before heading home. She won the Scottish Fiddle Championships four years ago... when she was 13. Great fiddler, even if she made me feel like a no-talent overage wastrel... but, really, who doesn't make me feel like that?

Well, I suppose I've bored you long enough. Best get back to tackling that camp logo that's been giving me heck. (I actually have it 80% done; it's the last 20% that's fighting me tooth and nail. As usual.)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

So Much for the Camera Theory

Today, we went back to the little pond park with Grandpa and our uncle. This time, I remembered my camera.

I almost wish I hadn't.

Not only did the eagles return, but they put on a spectacular show. They soared. They dove. They perched right on the water's edge. They screeched. They chased off an osprey. The osprey dove for a fish, and they chased it for the fish. One of them even soared right over my head from a tree I hadn't seen it land in. Even the ducks put on a fine show - they paddled and quacked right under the viewing area. A little stripe-billed gray bird dove for fish almost under my feet. A beautiful blue damselfly kept landing on me.

Later, we went over to a nearby heron rookery. We saw more ducks and a goose. We saw another pair of eagles and a nest. We saw herons building up their rookery. We even, thanks to a chance encounter, saw a Cooper's Hawk nest, complete with roosting Cooper's Hawk.

All of this, I saw while I had my camera with me.

How many shots did I get? How many times did I manage to have the camera out and aimed in the right place at the right time and ready to go? How many pictures came out?

Look at the start of the post. Count.

Yep, even when I had my camera, I could barely manage to get one remotely salvageable shot. The moment I'd have to wipe off my glasses, they flew. When I had to leave to eat lunch with the family, they danced. When I found a vantage point without a tree in the way, they hid.

I swear those birds were laughing at me...

When we finally got home, I happened to glance skyward.

A bald eagle was flying over head.

I heard a pileated woodpecker laugh as I watched it.

Very funny, birds.... veeerrry funny.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Always Bring Your Camera

Today, as we have for most Sundays this year, we went over to Grandpa's for lunch. I brought with me my coat, my car, and my sketchbook and pens. I didn't bring my camera, because for most of these gatherings we've been doing decidedly unphotogenic things (i.e. sitting around in the living room or walking around the yard.) Besides, the weather looked a bit cloudy at home.

Always bring your camera.

At Grandpa's, his front yard was a dazzle of purple hyacinth, with bright fancy tulips finally open after unseasonably cool weather this April. For a change of pace, we went out to KFC for grilled chicken (very good, BTW.) Afterwards, we decided to go to a nearby wetland park. The weather had turned sunny, with an assortment of pretty clouds drifting under a cerulean sky.

Always bring your camera.

I was execting it to be an extension of the usual river park we go to in this area, but it wasn't. It was a large pond in a space between business developments, backed up to a Target and a mattress store and some other outfit.

Always bring your camera.

Here was a tranquil oasis in an overdeveloped valley. Pink-flowering fruit trees covered in blossoms, abuzz with the all-too-scarce-lately drone of bees. Two overlooks looked over a span of blue water and green trees, with drifting ducks dabbling about the shores.

Always bring your camera.

Suddenly, the ducks took off. We wondered why... until we looked up. Right overhead, a bald eagle soard over the pond. It drifted and circled and flapped up to a perch in a nearby tree. Nor was this its only visit... nor was this the only eagle. A pair of them made several forays over the pond, flying from tree to tree. I swear they were taunting me. I lost track of them, however, when a bright flash caught our attention. A hummingbird with a green back, its head and gorget flashing from red to magenta as it flew... yes, at last, after over three decades, I finally saw a mature male Anna's hummingbird. Not twenty feet away from me it hovered, glowing in the sunlight. A beautiful bird, in a beautiful park, on a beautiful day.

And me with nothing to record it with save my memory.

The lesson?

Always, always, always bring your camera!