Along the Chesapeake in Maryland we chanced upon a winery overlooking a promising sunset evening. It’s a work in progress just having opened a few years ago. The first wines are just now maturing. We sampled a flight. (I don’t drink.) We got a souvenir glass. We bought a bottle (of course!). It was a very nice unexpected interlude in our meandering. Happy birthday! I remember it fondly. Next stop… Jessop’s.
You take pictures of cats? Same principle – sheep. Eyes, it’s in the eyes. Focus. I’m tying up loose ends here. I just readjusted my DSLR camera to focus as I would like it to be. And it was largely more successful. These days I am so used to the point and shoot cameras that I don’t look in the view finder as much. It’s not laziness. I’ve gotten used to holding the camera at the level of my subject. This means that instead of bending I simply hold the camera lower and press the shutter. In a pen, this means I can get closer to the sheep without climbing in. if you recall, everything is related. Only the subjects change. The technique crosses over. So, I have been asked, how many pictures of sheep do I need. I’ve got one already. It’s like why I go to the movies. I’ve seen one already?
No, I’m not OCD. Am I? No matter. Here’s something you don’t see every day: Spinning in the park. Or, bobbin lace. It’s a craft not in much popularity. It’s intricate and fascinating. The artist said take all the pictures you want, just none of me. The sheep are trimmed and groomed for show. Why? The fleece is reduced to short fiber. The sheep sure look better. But then again maybe I forgot, they are destined to be eaten. Lamb burger? Gyro?
I just met this instrument again for the first time at a Celtic concert at our library. I have seen Maggie and her step puppets before. This time the instrument made more sense and had more meaning. It’s just time, experience, and a little percolation. It’s all cool. Maggie’s gadget synchronizes the step puppets to her music. Yup, she literally steps on a board and the puppet move to the time of her dulcimer.
In order to get yarn you start with a sheared fleece. The fleece is washed. It’s turned into roving. Then, it’s spun. After that you knit or weave. If you skip the spinning, you can felt. Felt? The would be pressing the fibers together until they form a sheet of fiber all on their own. Like art, this is the raw material for creating a myriad of things. I’m more interested in the process than in creating art. People like came to buy the raw materials. Sometimes it’s the journey more than the destination. It’s all here. If you know fiber – ie spin and weave or knit – then you recognized the various states I mention. Otherwise, enjoy the patterns and color.
They’re cute. I think they are cute if you are sheep yourself. Otherwise, one looks the same to me as another. Except – I can tell you that the sheep with a haircut to its neck is a blue faced Leicester. Imagine that! They come that way – no wool on their head to the neck. At least I can recognize one! Ha ha, someone I know also thought a sheep was a sheep and that there was just one sheep. I have come to know that you have long and short hair, coarse and fine hair, and clean (coated) or dirty (uncoated). Yes, they really do keep the sheep covered in coats. They are pretty messy if they sleep in grass, straw, and dirt. I look at a sheep and see all the stuff (straw, dirt, shit) in the fleece and dream about cleaning (picking) it. Cute? Well, if you are the end user – scarf, sweater, blanket – well, yeah! Otherwise I can now appreciate why they can sell stuff for so much.
There is an odd mix of craft that is accepted for entry at the fair. It’s not just sheep. Brooms, wood turning, music, there were vendors of all sorts from source to finished products. You could get elaborate finished wool and fresh off the lamb fleece. There was an odd booth which had products made from old silverware. Nice. The craftsman cut off the handles of spoons and forks and made napkin rings. We were short (only got six last year) and able to get the four more we needed. This year he made a one fingered salute of a pickle fork. Yeah, it kind of reflects the mood of the country right now. Use your imagination; this one doesn’t have a picture to explain. Just hold up your middle finger and look in the mirror.
I told you there was a crowd. Cars covered the hillside. Get there late and you have a hike to the entrance. We got there early and found folks tailgating just like a football game. What was the rush? Aside from the sheep, there were llamas. And, there were angora rabbits. You can spin your yarn right off the rabbit. It’s just a neat trick to do that. Owner and rabbit were having a ‘chill’ moment.
Maryland Sheep and Wool – Festival. Say it and it’s an instant party. There was a huge crowd. The ominous weather forecast did nothing to lessen the attendance. Folks are a bit quirky. I don’t see knitting and sheep tattoos every day. Who spins in a dinosaur costume? Look closely. Bring your kids. The poor kid in the wagon was shivering. It’s a whole lot easier to carry your kid. There was no room to maneuver a stroller. Yes, it was that crowded.
We drive a two lane (road) in Maryland. We were about tenth in line behind a truck that took forever to pass… as in we didn’t… until it (road) became a four lane. In NYC a two lane is two lanes on my side or four lanes on my side. Everywhere else it seems that two lanes mean one lane in each direction. Oh boy! What the…! It’s a tank? Covered with canvas. Entry hatches. Driving along in Maryland. “No idea”, as Harry Potter would say. It took forever to pass the thing.
What can I say, it’s the closest thing to gambling that I can aspire to do. That’s Jane. She’s the auctioneer. She knows us. She poked fun at me. Last year we had to rent a van late on a Saturday afternoon in order to cart our purchased loom home from the fair. Yeah, it cost more to rent the van than it cost to buy the loom. And the bench that came with it was worth more than the whole lot. Ha ha, the joke was on me. You know you’ve been marked when they remember you for that stunt.
That singer sewing machine is old – 1910’s – according to the index of serial numbers. The great wheel we would win was one that I’d seen early in the day. Little did I know we’d have to make more room in the car going home. And of course, it rained (just like last year). So our purchases had to reside under the umbrella while we bid onward. You can guess (me) who was wet, “taking another one for the team.” At least I wasn’t on the ‘net looking for a van.
Actually, we know Jane’s significant other too. He’s from WV too. He has a part we dropped off with him two years ago. This is second year now in which we have cajoled him for not producing the part we need for a spinning wheel that he had promised. We know where he lives. We’re not worried he’ll run away. That’s a lot of trust considering we aren’t in his neighborhood too much these days. It doesn’t look like it we’ll see the part any time soon. ….kind of like the leaky barn on a sunny day.
Do as I say, not as I do…. And, you (my kids) can do this in a moving car, driving, and holding and iPhone. Many of the images I get are done on the go. I don’t stop. Ha! Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t stop. I’m go. So this is another moonrise over the highway. We were headed east in Maryland. I shot a couple images as we drove along. This one made the cut. Snapshot. I know. I could have maybe had something if I’d stopped and set up. I don’t travel with a tripod. I wouldn’t even know what to do if I had all the time I wanted to get a proper image. Shoot and go. Me.
Today, it ain’t about the picture. This is generic. You been there? I have. Done that. Done as in past tense. It’s the Washington beltway. I don’t envy the poor souls traveling in the opposite direction. All my life I traveled from Manhattan to the suburbs to work (against the rush hour flow). Ok! But it was still a royal pain in the ass. You always encountered traffic. I paid extra toll to go through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel just so I wouldn’t have to battle the rude drivers merging in at the Brooklyn Bridge.
Nowadays I just go. Go! Yeah! I rarely have to sit and stew in traffic. Do you know how many hours I’ve done in my lifetime? Years! I’ve sat in my car literally for years. If you calculate the miles you’ve driven… Oh my! Yes! I have sat in the car for years. No s**t Sherlock. So, to all of you who still sit in traffic, my sympathies. I am free! Yes, occasionally I sit. Not often. Thank you. Have you guessed yet, that I’m pretty happy about that?
While spinning wheels are on my mind I’d like to tell you another story. Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Worldwide and from across the USA people come. The traffic line was more than a mile long. And no one cut in. My my, what a polite crowd. Big? You bet! And just to see sheep, really? Yup. I was pretty impressed. The hillside was covered with cars. They’ve done this before. And the fairgrounds were packed.
Gambling? There was an auction. People were selling. Part of the sale went to support the next fair. You name it, there were things of value and junk. Outright junk. You sort and figure is all out. A single spinning wheel, a very special one, never before on the auction block went for more than $2000. And junk was sold for $5. You had to bid. It was friendly as long as you weren’t bidding against a nut case. You also need to have an idea of price. Oh yeah! Like I know spinning wheels and the cost of looms. Good stuff. As is. Who knows. Old things and brand new in the box. So I watched. Saw that $2000 wheel go to a woman whose husband approved. My my, that’s a lot. And then I put in a bid on a flax spining wheel. I got a nod. The auctioneer was not looking my way. I had to make noise. You sort of grunt ascent and wave your hand. Don’t look like you are scratching your head. And then it comes down to two or three women who stay in and drive up the price until the determination in my eye or the price exceeds their desire. Got it. As in, I bought it. No, silly, I didn’t take a picture. I don’t shoot everything.
The last time I did an auction was back when my kids were 8 or 10 years old. Their school auctioned off a large white stuffed bear. How large? Bigger than my two kids combined. They were impressed. Me too! I got it for about $20. The very next year at the same auction I got another but smaller bear for another $20. After that never again. I’m not a gambler by nature. I think that I would be tempted and lose the family farm if I were in Las Vegas. The worst I ever did was lose $5 in Atlantic City. (We had to pay for parking to enter the casino.)
I was in Puerto Rico at a spine meeting and the hotel had a casino. An orthopedic friend of mine handed his girlfriend $20 and told her to have fun. She went to the roulette table and damn if she didn’t parlay that money into $5000. Wow. She bet corners and lines and …. She hit the number a few times. Double wow! So years later during a family vacation at the Tyler Place in Vermont, lo and behold – Casino Night! $5 got you a Styrofoam cup of chips. Using my knowledge of roulette, I lost that cup of chips in less than 30 seconds. I walked away much the wiser. Nope. I don’t gamble.