Saturday morning dawned, and with the boy at his grandparents’ house we were waking up slowly. Chad made some smart-aleck remark, and I retorted, paraphrasing the episode of “Deadwood” we’d watched the previous night: “I no more need your witticisms than I do a balloonist!”
I looked out the bedroom window and there, drifting just above the trees bordering the neighbours’ horse pasture, was a big red hot air balloon. “Hey Chad,” says I, “There’s a balloon out here, really close!”
“What was that about a balloonist?” he quipped. I laughed. “Can you see how many people are in it?” he asked.
“Two, maybe three?” I guessed. Heading downstairs with thoughts of going out for breakfast, we both watched out the windows as we went. Standing in the kitchen, we looked out and saw the balloon was now very close, with two guys in it. I peered out the sliding door to the deck, and one of ’em waved, from his vantage about 20 feet over the corner of our deck. I waved back, and opened the door.
“Can we land?” the guy asked.
“Sure!” I said, and he told me he’d land right over in the front yard. “Sounds cool!” I replied, looking for my shoes. Having found them seconds later, and grabbed my camera, I headed out the front door… and saw no balloon. Instead I saw this, down by the neighbours’ driveway.
Plainly a ballon chase vehicle, having found its way down our dead-end road, no less. I left the porch and rounding the corner of the house…
As I walked over, the two fellows in the balloon introduced themselves; one was an instructor and the other was a balloonist getting his certification for commercial balloon work. The instructor hopped out, and making it look like nothing at all,
walked the balloon over to the driveway as the chase truck backed its trailer up the driveway.
We chatted as they prepared to pack up (and the chase truck driver brought up the newspaper! Delivery by balloon crew!) They made it look like an absolutely trivial thing to do…
Ever the yarn dork, of course, I was intrigued by the process of dropping the deflating balloon without the fabric or lines tangling.
I hadn’t realized there was an opening at the top of the balloon as well as the bottom, and some sort of rigging lines inside as well as out.
They just laid the whole balloon down right there evenly along the driveway. Packing it up involved tipping over the basket, and then the chase truck crew fella brought out a device that looked like nothing so much as a giant Majacraft flyer hook (you know, an open-ended twist of metal tubing, like the yarn guide on ball winders, too). They passed the fabric through this smoothing things out, then started to cram the balloon into a giant stuffsack. Once this was done, they loaded the basket on a small wheeled trailer, put everything in the truck trailer, and thanked us for letting them use the yard and driveway for landing. The instructor gave me his card and then they were off; it might have all taken half an hour.
Unlike Amy’s recent experience, we didn’t get rides; but it would have been on the early side for me to think about anything like that anyway. I was just sorry that Edward missed it. However, you know, one of the things about this particular part of Ohio — and maybe it’s Ohio at large — is that it’s nutty for anything that goes up in the air. Seriously nutty.
From spring to fall, every single weekend, the air is filled with hot air balloons. I’ve been standing on the deck and been able to see 8 at a single time (though 3 or 4 is more common). Last summer, one landed across the road. And I think there are roughly a trillion small airports around here. There’s more than one hot air balloon festival. And I’m serious about it being aviation type stuff in general, of every type — there’s a small neighbourhood not a mile away as the crow flies which has a little airstrip of its own and folks have their small planes parked next to their driveways or in little hangars on their property.
In 2003, for the Centennial of Flight, well, that was a year when the aviation-type activity here was heavy. We were out visiting, and one day driving down the road, there were literally 8 dirigibles (blimps, airships, you know) visible in the sky — and it seemed like practically every “bigger” airport had an airship hanging out at it. That year, we all met the folks crewing the Fuji blimp, which was at a nearby airport. We were there keeping our distance looking at it, and someone walked up to Edward and said, “You guys can walk right up and touch it and stuff if you like. Wanna see inside?” He got to get in. And I can’t find those pictures!
My periodontist is up by the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, and one recent visit I was sitting in the chair watching big planes land — like I hadn’t seen since the year they landed some of those same unbelievably massive planes at Moffett Field a few years ago. As an aside, let me tell you, those things are BIG. I mean BIG. I will never forget driving along 101 as one of ’em came in for a landing and there it was in front of me, over me, blocking out the sun, looking far too massive to possibly be in the air — those things just defy the brain’s image of what it’s possible to put in the sky.
Let’s see, what other evidence of local aviation-madness can I find… ah! Going to do certain kinds of shopping requires driving past the home of the Wright “B” Flyer and nothing in the area lets you forget the Wright Brothers did their thing in Dayton. And occasionally, here in town, you’ll hear about Neil Armstrong, who recently moved closer to Cincinnati, but lived here for decades, leaving an almost disconcertingly unassuming mark on the place, in things like teeny tiny plaques that are all but hidden from sight in places he helped out at (like the Y where Edward goes to summer camp).
In fact, digressing a little bit, that whole attitude largely characterizes the local mindset — everybody’s just some dude who wants to be a regular schmoe, mow the yard, wave to the neighbours, be regulars at the same restaurants and businesses, raise kids, go to school plays, watch the fireworks from the back yard, and be generally friendly and personable but not intrusive in anyone else’s life. I swear the culture shock almost killed me (but in a good way), moving here from Silicon Valley.
Anyway, so the hot air balloon guys are just out doing what they do, which is no big deal or uncommon thing, and they’re very polite about the use of someone’s yard for landing, which is a routine enough matter that — I later heard from my mother-in-law — the standard, acknowledged convention is that people put a bedsheet in the yard to let balloonists know it’s totally cool to land. So, it wasn’t like it was a special occasion or anything; in fact I’m sure if I walk outside right now and look up, I’ll see hot air balloons. Just not one landing in my yard.
Oh, and before I move on to the actual fiber content for the day, I’d just like to state that in my opinion, the Transformers movie is the best summer blockbuster type movie in quite some time. Therefore I won’t say anything else about it, really, save that Edward totally numbed my arm clinging to it during incredible CG effects-laden fight sequences, when he wasn’t sitting with his mouth agape in glee or identifying which guys were which for me. And yes, it’s an incredibly good GM commercial, and that doesn’t detract from the summer-blockbuster-ness of it at all. Special effects galore, no more than 90 seconds without action sequences, exactly what you need in a summer blockbuster. Pure entertainment.
So anyway, yeah, the fiber content. It’s still too hot to spin, even with the air conditioning on (as it has been and will continue to be), so I’ve been working on that triangle again.
It’s now that big, or actually maybe 2 inches wider at the top part now, so 25 inches across the top unblocked. Shown here, I was moving it from the short 2.5mm circular needle to the long one, so this was a great chance to take a picture.
I decided that certain design elements in this shawl were simply going to end up being far too understated, and that disappointed me as I felt they were among the cleverer parts; the parts that I had to throw in to keep me on my toes so I’d finish the project (since, as I’ve explained before, if I get bored, I stop knitting). Soooo….
Yeah, beads. Iridescent beads which I decided I needed to sort by colour. Talk about an exercise in … uh… trying to go blind perhaps.
Anyway, the shawl is top-down from the top center out, around a corner, so that the yarn will stripe in an interesting way. Building on that are diamonds, at a 45% angle to the stripes. Moving out from there, diamond-shaped blocks of 5 diamonds on a side are bordered with lines of leaves, which will be progressing in diamond shapes. This was the design element that I felt was too understated. So, now it’s being punched up with the centers of the leaves being beaded, so that when the shawl is all said and done, there’ll be lines of beads at a 90% angle to the stripes, along the centerline of some of the diamonds, progressing in a diamond-shaped pattern throughout the shawl. Lastly, a beaded edge is planned for the legs of the triangle (not the base, at the neck side).
Wow, does that ever make no sense to describe! You’ll just have to keep watching as this progresses. And it promises to be large — remember, there’s 1100 yards of this yarn, and my plan is to go till I’m done. I’d say that right now I’m probably through the first 20% of the skein. Maybe. Honestly I’ve no idea; I would have to weigh the skein or something, and I can’t be bothered!