Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hot air, of the nicer variety

I took Garrett and my brand new digital camera to downtown Houston to see an exhibit of inflatable art (see previous entry for history of whimsy).

One installation evoked both sea anemone and trash bags. The long, dark arms absorbed the heat of the sun, causing the air inside to rise and the balloon to lift and wave as if moved by an invisible breeze. (And believe me, there was no breeze!) The accompanying description said it was a commentary on waste and the pollution of our oceans. Interestingly, Garrett made his very own hot air balloon last summer using the same heated-trash-bag method.

The Wicked Witch of the West was not well-received on her recent visit to Houston.

Garrett found the sailboat for which he has been yearning, while I meditated upon the sacred lotus.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Houston Highland Games

In the spirit of pursuing all things "quirky" (Kristin) and/or "cultural" (Garrett), we attended the 37th Houston Highland Games and Celtic Festival last weekend. It was just like the rodeo, except with much smaller crowds and much more plaid.

We perused the vendor booths (you could purchase an ocarina, the flute-like instrument featured prominently in the video game Zelda) and took in some highland dancing (did you know the girls raise their arms to imitate the antlers of a stag, an important animal back in the day?). We also learned how to herd sheep (a very useful asset when the economy is down).

Other highlights included Scottish food. We were feeling cautious and passed, but I thought this sign sounded like a Celtic law firm.

There were pony rides with horses featuring most excellent bangs.

There were nearly as many dogs present as people -- mostly collies, shelties, and terriers. Then there was this impressive Irish wolfhound.

What we were most looking forward to, of course, was the men's athletic competition. You know: big, burly men in kilts from competing clans throwing heavy objects. It was very impressive and was what made the trip worthwhile.

There are a variety of tossing events, in which the greatest distance makes you the winner.

In the weight toss and the sheaf toss, you must throw a weight over a high crossbar. The sheaf toss simulates the act of tossing hay into a barnloft.

The crowd favorite is the caber toss -- "caber" being Gaelic for "tree trunk." Each competitor must lift and then toss, end-over-end, a 19-foot pole weighing 120 pounds. The winner is the person who can complete the straightest flip (i.e., a "12 o'clock" toss). Amazing!

Overall, it was a very entertaining day -- We "clan't" complain!