Monday, October 30, 2006

Large Men Throwing Stuff


The Richmond Highland Games and Celtic Festival. Basically, heaven-on-earth for the single woman. And this single gal was definitely in heaven yesterday, attending that fantastic event. What I want to know is, where have I been? It's been hosted here for the last twelve years! I suppose in the past when I've seen advertisements for it, I've thought, "well, I'm not Scottish, so I wouldn't enjoy it". Boy, was I wrong! ("Boy" being the operative word, hee hee!)

Whoever thinks that large men in skirts aren't throw-me-down sexy has never walked around large groups of them. And any man who would feel girly or silly or self-conscious wearing a kilt needs to get over that real quick, because, I'm telling you, a man in a kilt is an out-and-out babe-magnet. Just sayin'. There was a thick, but invisible cloud of testosterone floating around the entire festival, and it was quite heady. See for yourself:

The wind was a-whippin', an added bonus to those of us enjoying the bevy of bare-legged boys in skirts. Of course, I imagine most of the guys were prepared for the weather and were not wearing their kilts regimental. Our loss.

This fellow in the middle leaves nothing to the imagination, unfortunately:

Biker shorts. Sigh. He killed the fantasy.

And, if you can't buy a kilt for whatever reason, then make one. Out of duct tape:

It's okay to bring your dogs to the event. Many, many people did, because at some point there's a "blessing of the animals", but we missed that. Some pooches even sported their clan's tartan:

I'll bet he's wearing it regimental!
But, back to the reason I came to the event. That's right -- large men throwing stuff.

First, the caber toss. It takes six men to carry that tree:

shades of Iwo Jima

But only one can toss it:

oh, almost made it!


there ya go, fella!

Next is the sheaf toss -- basically, throwing a heavy burlap bag with a pitchfork over a bar:

And then there's the:

Contrary to popular belief, that is not a contest between nagging wives, but rather is an actual axe-throwing competition. Anyone could sign up to try:

That woman on the end tried to throw an axe with a purse on her shoulder.
She was not successful, as you might have guessed.


If one was not interested in the more athletic events, once could still participate in the elbow-bending competition:

And even at a Celtic festival, one can find fibery goodness:

I've always wanted one of these rings, but the vendor didn't have one in my size.

Maybe next year I'll get one. And maybe next year, I'll go both Saturday and Sunday! All kilts, all the time!

I have made light with all the eye-candy-in-skirts references, but this really is a wonderful event, and there's so much more that I didn't capture here. Each represented clan had its own tent which flew their own tartan's colors. There was a tent where a helpful person would look up various family surnames for you to find your particular tartan. Hundreds of attendees of all ages wore tartans in a fascinating variety of colors. On Saturday night, my friends attended a formal dinner for the Henderson clan, and met the international chief of that clan, in town all the way from Australia. Everyone was incredibly friendly, the food was yummy, (typical bad-for-you festival food - yes, I had funnel cake), and the music, ohhhhh, the music.

I don't know what it is, but something about standing in such close proximity to core-vibrating bagpipe music moves me in such a way that I am helplessly reduced to tears. Thank God I was wearing sunglasses. Here's a little sampling of it:



We ended our lovely day by watching another wonderful group of musicians called "Poisoned Dwarf", perform in the Dewar's tent:

Poisoned Dwarf

I am an instant convert to this incredible event, so you better know I'll be there next year.

Wearing plaid!

(Feedblitz subscribers go here to see embedded videos that don't email well.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Think Pink Contest Winners!

Thanks, once again, to everyone who got involved with the Think Pink Challenge, and to those who responded to my blog contest in support of it.

The challenge goes on, but the contest is over. I have drawn names and winners have been identified.

The contest winners are as follows:

First Place:

Each first place winner wins one skein of their choice of Blue Moon Fiber Arts' "Socks That Rock", or another comparably-priced yarn of their choice.

I also felt like there ought to be an additional winner's category for those whose names weren't drawn to win the yarn, but who still made the effort to contribute to this cause. Therefore, I give you the following runner-up winners:

Honorable Mention:

Each honorable mention winnner wins one pattern of their choice from Morehouse Merino.

I will be contacting each winner to work out the finer details of prize distribution.

Congratulations, everyone!

And once again, thank you!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Panic mode has officially set in.

I just realized that November is just days away. Meaning, Christmas is just weeks away.


So I just did some mental calculations and am wondering if I'll meet my holiday knitting deadlines.

Here's what I want to try and knit by December 17th, (when we're having the big family Christmas):
  • 9 mini-stocking ornaments - for my dozen nieces and nephews (3 already knit)
  • 5 hats - one for niece's November birthday (yikes!); one each for mom & dad; one for family member whose name I've drawn (maybe); one for our knitting group's Barnes & Noble give-away (1/3 finished)
  • 2 Mason-Dixon ballband washcloths - for family member whose name I've drawn
  • 2 linen dish towels - for family member whose name I've drawn
I'd also somehow like to squeeze in a hat for Rabbitch's contest (due December 1st - yikes!) and a scarf for the Red Scarf Project (thankfully, not due until early next year).

I can do this, right? Right?

There's a good chance I won't meet my ambitious goals, but at least I'll try.

I need to get cracking and stop fiddling around with knits for myself. They'll have to wait until after the holidays, I guess.

Where did the time go?


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tappahannock Tuesday

I've said this before, and I'll say it again, knitting and knit-blogging have enriched my life. Yesterday was a perfect example.

But before I jump into details of yesterday, I'd like to review a little history, if you'll bear with me, to reinforce the point made in that first sentence.

Soon after I learned how to knit I started this knitting blog to keep track of my progress. As with most knit-bloggers, I'm also inspired by reading other knitting blogs. This past January I stumbled upon the blog of a local knitter (hi Jane!) who had started a knitting group that conveniently met on my side of town. A month or two later, I started actively attending that group and have made many new knitting friends. (Hi TNKers!) Jane also turned me on to a few other Virginia knit-bloggers, one of whom is Queen Bess. I started reading and enjoying Bess' blog regularly, and we began exchanging emails and found out we had lots in common, including that we'd both attended the same high school, (although not at the same time). One discussion led to another, and in April, Bess came to Richmond to give me my very first drop spindle lesson.

Fast-forward to June when Bess blogged about wishing for a digital camera. A lightbulb turned on in my head, as I'd been wondering for awhile what I'd do with my old digi-cam once I upgraded to one with a functional zoom. Jump to October when I finally get around to actually purchasing the new camera. The old camera then became immediately available for adoption, and the hand-off occurred at the Fall Fiber Festival. But I also promised to give Bess an in-person digi-cam tutorial, which we scheduled for yesterday, when I met her at her place of work, (where resides her faster computer).

Thus ends my personal history lesson, and begins the tale of yesterday's fun.

It amazes me that I've lived in Virginia for most of my life, and there are still towns I've never heard of and places I've never been. I'd definitely heard of Tappahannock, but had never been there, and never realized what I'd been missing, until yesterday.

From my house, the little town of Tappahannock is exactly an hour's drive. Just get on 360-East and keep going:

stopping just before you cross the bridge over the Rappahannock river:

Once you get outside the Richmond area, past the Mechanicsville sprawl, it's really a lovely, peaceful drive. At 10:30am, after the morning rush has waned, there were stretches of road where I was the only car in either direction. What I love about living in Richmond is that, within fifteen minutes of the state capital's metro area, you stumble upon scenes like this:

I found out later that one of Bess' relatives (her cousin's husband's brother's wife's uncle?) grew up on Prestley Farm. Bess -- feel free to indicate the correct connection in the comments!

I arrived at Bess' shiny-new library building by late morning, and we spent a nice hour or so in her office for the brief camera tutorial, (she really didn't need it -- she's a smart cookie and had figured it all out already), and then she showed me the fantastic progess she's made on what she calls her "KipFee" sweater. She even showed me how she knits it continental-style, carrying both colors over her left index finger and just picks the desired yarn for a particular stitch. I had every intention of taking pictures and perhaps even a little movie of her knitting style, but we were having too much fun chatting and I never stopped to turn on my camera. Then she showed me the fantastic contents of her library's knitting video and book collection, (it's good to be Queen, apparently!), and I was amazed that there are knitting designs from the 1980's that are still quite beautiful. I would not have believed it, had I not seen the books myself! (Bess - I hope you'll highlight those books on your blog someday -- I think they deserve their time in the spotlight!)

After our fun in the library, we had a delicious lunch at a neat former hardware store across the river in Warsaw:

On our way, we stopped for gas and I had to chuckle at the sign in the gas station's window:

After lunch, Bess gave me the grand tour of Tappahannock, where she showed me things like:

wonderful old homes

gorgeous river views

beautiful stained glass window at an old movie theater

The Essex Inn - wonderful B&B near the rivah

17th (?) century Baptist Meeting House that's now a dry cleaners

old Customs House

After the grand tour given by the world's greatest tour guide, (no one can tell a good story like Bess can), we stopped on impulse at a neat little gift shop which held such girly treasures as:

peacock feather purse

peacock tea service

peacock feather mask
(can you tell I like peacocks?)

snazzy spider hat

beautiful necklace
(it wasn't too hard to talk her into buying it!)

All in all, a lovely day in a lovely town with a lovely person. I now understand more fully Bess' penchant for waxing eloquant about her small town. Tappahannock would make a wonderful weekend trip, perhaps staying at a B&B, taking a boat trip up-river to a winery, and antique-ing at the half-dozen or more antique shops in the area.

Thanks, Queen Bess, for a great day!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Think Pink Contest drawing soon!

I'd like to extend a heartfelt "Thank You!" to everyone who contributed a knitted, crocheted or woven scarf to the Think Pink Challenge, and especially to those who rose to the last minute challenge of my blog contest. If you still have the urge to knit a pink scarf or turn in one you've only just finished, fear not -- (although they won't qualify for my contest), Sydney is still accepting them and will continue to do so, as she's decided to make this an ongoing project. She's also considering the creation of a 2007 calendar with pictures of some of the scarves sent in for this effort. If you'd be interested in such a calendar, please stop by her Think Pink blog and let her know.

Meanwhile, I am actively communicating with Syd to confirm her receipt of the scarves that will qualify for my contest's drawing. If you have not emailed me before now to indicate your qualifying entry in the contest, please do so, (maryklarson[At]comcast[d0t]net), by noon EST tomorrow, Sunday, October 22nd, as I'll be holding the drawing early next week -- hopefully on Monday.

Stay tuned to find out the winners of free yarn!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hometown Tourist - Part Deux

Well, it seems as if the Science Museum of Virginia is the place to be, these days.

I was there on Monday, and President Bush was there last night for a campaign fundraiser.

And I think I may go back tonight for LiveSky and perhaps a Sky Watch.

It's quite the happenin' place!

Here's a little history about the building, (click any photo to enlarge):

Before it was a museum, it was a train station (1919-1975)

Old postcard from 1920-1930's era

A couple of mid-century postcards

The museum facade today
(I love how the original copper dome is now verdigris)

If that dome looks familiar, it's probably because the building was designed by the same architect as the Jefferson Memorial.
Images you might recognize from Tuesday's video

Foucault Pendulum
demonstrates the rotation of the earth

pendulum knocks over one pin every 24 minutes

Another huge marble globe - this one does not rotate
globe close-up: Aloha!
giant chess board

train mural
remnant of a bygone era

exterior & interior of an old caboose,
which can now be rented for kids' birthday parties

I love this mural and mobile

good boys & girls might get to ride a Segway

I enjoyed this planetarium show

gift shop t-shirt

Next door to the Science Museum:

Mmmm -- cookies!
(Does anyone know -- are they still in business?)

And across Broad Street from the Science Museum:

1930's postcard - William Byrd hotel

1940's postcard - William Byrd hotel

former William Byrd hotel building, today
(Does anyone know what this is used for nowadays?)

In summary, I think the Science Museum has a lot to offer. There are many interactive exhibits for kids, my favorite being any of the astronomy-related ones. The IMAX and planetarium shows are entertaining for all ages.