Sunday, June 11, 2006

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

While I didn't go to market to buy a fat pig, I did spend some time south of the forty-ninth. Originally, I was only going for the weekend, but the trip kept getting extended with new things to do and people to meet.

The Bellingham Highland Games are always a good bet. Especially if you like Celtic music. I'm a born sucker for pipes and drums, and this festival kinda starts the year off for me. This year I only got to be there for the Saturday, and I wanted to be everywhere at once.

Celtic music? Let me recommend -- for sheer energy as well as the amazing sound this group puts out -- Wicked Tinkers. The quote at the top of their page reads: “…the Tinkers appeared, beating the living hell out of tapan, bodhran, and marching snare drum, while pipes skirled, a didgeridoo wobbled, and a Bronze Age Irish horn bellowed, like the voice of some H.P. Lovecraft aquatic leviathan." The quote does not lie. They perform traditional and modern Celtic music in traditional dress (they're regimental, a fact which become apparent as soon as they start leaping and whirling about) and in some non-traditional ways, coming off the stage and into the audience at times, getting everyone involved...Keith Jones actually invites little kids to bang on his drum. Their verson of The O'Neill's March absolutely wiped me out, and I was only keepin' time by clapping, stomping, and thumping my staff on the ground. No way can I tell you about these guys and have you believe it -- you have to see and hear for yourself, and your first experience should be live! Half their appeal is visual.

And I bought myself a fine new staff from one of the vendors. It's made from a saguaro rib and crowned with a piece of cholla stem (scroll down to see the reticulate pattern that's left when all the succulent tissue is gone). The vendor prowls the Arizona desert in the winter and picks up dead cactus skeletons, taking them home to his workshop where he works his magic and turns them into functional art. I love this staff. So does the rest of the world, it seems. Coming back across the border, I had a helluva time getting the Canada Customs guys to quit playing with it and let me go home.

Sunday I spent at Bellingham's Gay Pride Day. Unlike Vancouver, they don't hold a parade, but they do have a festival in a semi-covered marketplace in downtown Bellingham. There are vendors, speeches, political groups, information booths, performers...quite an impressive showing considering that Bellingham is a rather small city.

I'm used to unusual things happening around me, but one episode kinda freaked out my companions when I told them about it: I had been wandering around on my own, like I usually do in an unfamiliar place, and I noticed that I kept getting in the way of a blind man. It seemed like every time I turned around, I was almost bumping into him. It never occurred to me that he was following me until he spoke.

"I can feel your aura," he said as I was about to duck out of his way again. "Are you Wiccan?"

I told him I was pagan, but not British trad, and he grinned. "I figured you were. Your aura is very green."

Interesting. From what little I know of auras (which is not much -- not my area of expertise), green signifies a healer. Pretty damned close. Having a blind man follow me about the place by feeling the color, though, was absolutely fascinating.

We made an unplanned trip to Seattle the afternoon before I was to come home. It was kinda "we're going to Burlington, anyway, so why don't we keep going to Pike Place Market?"

Why don't we? I've never been to Pike Place Market. And I've been wanting to see and hear Howlin' Hobbit. This might be the time...


We didn't get there until almost closing time (who knew the place had a closing time?), and most of the vendors were already packing up and closing their doors. I did manage to find a gem shop and picked up some very nice pieces of jet, and we had supper at one of the restaurants. And then we headed north again. Or started to...

The very short version of this is that the flywheel attached to the alternator decided to pack it in -- in the middle of I-5! Those of you who are mechanically inclined can translate for the rest, if you wish. Bottom line, though, is that the car was not going to make the trip back to Bellingham. Not then. Probably not ever.

We did get back to Bellingham, sans the car we started out in, about one o'clock the next morning. Thanks to a few kind strangers, a former relative of one of my companions, and a very good friend and rescuer who drove down from Bellingham to pick us up and drive us back again on absolutely no notice (on a rainy, miserable night, and without working windshield wipers on the rescue vehicle, yet)!

On the whole, it's good to be home and surrounded by familiar things. Sometimes I think that's the only reason any of us go home -- it's familiar. more thing. I usually do these cross-border trips by bus. This time, I took Amtrak. Beats the hell outa the bus!


Blogger Howlin' Hobbit said...

The daystall people at the Market have to be set up by 11am and cannot tear down until 4pm. If the day is a good one (like Friday and Saturday were for me) folks will stay longer. If it's a bad one at 4:01 it's like rats from a sinking ship.

I'm going to find your email and send you my cell phone so we can at least say hi next time you're in (or are going to be in) the neighborhood.


Monday, June 12, 2006 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Chimera said...

If you click on "View my complete profile" you'll see my e-mail -- will reach me. I even remember to check it once in awhile.

I thought of getting in touch just as we decided to come down to Seattle, which is to say, not too long before we actually left Bellingham. I didn't figure an e-mail would reach you in time, and none of us had a Blackberry. And, of course, none of us had your number, either.

Would you believe that we walked up and down a few streets, looking for your balconette? I'm the only one of us who had seen the pics you posted, and I thought I'd recognise it if I saw it, but we didn't see it. Ah, well...we got some exercise on that hill!

Hope FA is doing better.

Monday, June 12, 2006 10:14:00 PM  

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