Sunday, 28 September 2008

Social Anthropology Field Notes -- Class Reunion

I am twisting Painted Maypole's Monday Mission just a bit.

Here follow field notes taken at my husband's 45th (!) B Eng class reunion.

Location

My husband and I both attended Queen's University at Kingston (Ontario, Canada). This is a university that has Traditions in a big way, one of which is that every fall they have a homecoming weekend, with football game, which anniversary classes attend. Husband was Engineering '63, and he still has his faculty jacket. Alumni wear their faculty jackets as they parada around the football field at half time. Wives sit in the bleachers and admire them. There were literally hundreds of paraders on Saturday. And the extant students seem to get a big kick out of the old geezers marching by.

Ambiance, Part I

It rained. I took a knapsack to the game with my goretex impervious suit in it. I put it on in the first quarter and sat in it through the game. Science '63 had chosen to hand out bright gold umbrellas as the reunion keepsake. Most of the group had theirs and sat under them, thus obscuring the action on the field for those behind them. Plus, the rain rolling off the umbrellas fell onto the knees of those sitting behind them. It was Very Wet. We perservered, watching the Queen's Golden Gaels whump Western, something like 40 to 9. (I couldn't see much of the scoreboard either.) Western has a good passing game but it didn't stand up to rain very well.

Ambiance, Part II

We dripped back to the Conference Centre where we were staying, broke out the scotch and got more or less warm and dry, put on our glad rags and went to a celebratory feast, also in the conference centre. The lads cleaned up quite well. Of note, there were no trophy wives. We were all very long in the tooth. In spite of a note urging gala dress, most of the wives wore pantsuits and sensible shoes, had short white hair and ate lots (which appears to be their habit most days, judging by their figures). I fit right in.

Entertainment, Part I

Food, as noted above. Very good food. Lots of it. Not much excessive drinking, which is a marvel considering what the guys were like 45 years ago. At the game, entertainment consisted of folding the umbrellas, standing up and singing the school song at each touchdown. The student body does this in a sort of kicking line, like the Rockettes. We simply swayed to and fro. I contemplated kicking the umbrella wielders in front of me, but refrained. We were all very civilized.

Entertainment, Part II

The Engineering students have developed a new ritual since my daughter attended (in Arts) in the late '80's. They had just bought their brand new bright gold faculty jackets and at half time they all clambered out of the stands and onto the field where they proceeded to whack their nice $400 jackets on the rainy, muddy turf, over and over and over. Did I mention that most of them had dyed their faces and torsos purple? They whacked in unison, sort of. There were several hundred of them doing this, producing a sort of wet and squishy thudding rhythm. It was A Sight To Behold. I guess that they are 'breaking in' the jackets and making them a sort of gold/grey colour -- I saw some of the class of '03, back for their five year anniversary, wearing jackets that colour. The Science '63 guys, whose faculty jackets are shiny gold fabric, stood out on the march.

Conclusions

Queen's students were and are nuts.


PS I have photos of this, but they are on a film as the only waterproof camera I own is an older film one. I will add photos to this set of notes when I get it developed.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Colorado Rocky Mountain High


Home again, after what the YD assures me is a routine series of airplane flights in which 1.) we were doublecharged for checked luggage, 2.) plane one was over an hour late leaving and so we had to wait interminably for a gate at the other end, 3.) we did the marathon through Denver airport to catch plane 2, and did not have time to buy real food to eat on the plane, 4.) we spent too much time cooling our heels in Toronto airport, no place for real people, 5.) we sat on the apron at the terminal of our last flight because there had been a security alert and 6.) found our luggage had been searched and not resecured or even fully shut again. Today I am tired, jet lagged and bemused. However, my husband did all the laundry while I was away and even did some ironing, I am breathing moist air at a low altitude and the leaves are starting to turn. Life is good.

I have also fished all my photos off the camera (the only work I have done today!) I went up Pike's Peak on the cog railway on Monday and, having lucked out with a seat in the front row of the train, I got some lovely pics. It was snowy up there and heartbreakingly beautiful. And the ride up and down was just as much fun as sliding aroundat the top taking multiple shots of purple mountain fastnessness and the plain from which they can be viewed. (Note to Canadian readers: the lyrics of 'America the Beautiful' were written shortly after the author visited the Peak -- by horsedrawn carriage. This puts the plane journey into perspective, hmm?)

I am also including two Garden of the Gods pics, as promised. There are a lot more, yes, indeed there are. But I cannot resist shots of the YD climbing on things to frame her shots.

Colorado Springs is a lovely place. However, the YD has chosen to live in Manitou Springs, a small town on the western edge of the city. Here there is a small town atmosphere (I walked into town from the Pike's Peak railway station and everyone I passed spoke to me), lovely quirky local restaurants and shops, easy access to the recreational land in the Front Range and beyond and lots of local biking and hiking, not least in Garden of the Gods Municipal park. Suits the YD's lifestyle. The fact that she is taking up residence in a flood plain is something we both missed until she was signing the lease. However, what she plans to keep in the basement garage are boats. So, I guess that covers that.

I am about to stop babbling here and start catching up on my favourite blogging people. But I do plan to be back more regularly, now I have the new rig up and running. Stand by for leaf pics, I guess.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

A Short (ish) Travellogue

Here I am in Colorado Springs, enjoying a holiday with the YD. And I am writing this on her other laptop, a mini with a touchpad which runs on Vista. Please insert from memory all my usual whines about this rig, with the addition of a new one – something I am doing keeps switching the text into italics. I am not a happy user of her equipment, just let us say.
Colorado Springs is an intriguing smallish city, filled with military types, some of them retired. So far I have managed to pick up two of them, much to the YD’s amusement. I talk to people, which I suppose is a bad habit overall, but one that provides me with endless entertainment when I am waiting for something. I am quite sure that when she was a teenager, the YD was completely mortified by me when I did this, but she is now a laid back and tolerant adult, and puts up with me very patiently on the whole. She tells me that the area is a big hit with retired officers; the one man I talked to had served on the DEW line in the fifties and sixties and was really interesting to listen to.
On Friday, the city got 5”+ of rain, one third of its total rainfall for the year, I have learned. All the drains and streambeds were running with red and ochre mud, and we had to wade into our motel unit. Yesterday was absolutely glorious, sunny and breezy and cool. We went to an attraction called Garden of the Gods. Spectacular red and white rock formations, wonderful walking paths, and photo ops at every step – I have a multitude of shots of the scenery, of the YD taking pictures of the scenery, photos that, alas, are still on my camera whose computer cord is sitting on my desk at home. Do go and look at the link, however, if you do not know about this wonderful place – it is a municipal park, and immaculately preserved. Also free. Wow!
Today we were planning to take the cob railway to the top of Pike’s Peak and when we woke up on Eastern Daylight time, the snowy top of the peak was shining in the sun. But when our appointed departure time arrived, the mountain had disappeared. I am now scheduled to go tomorrow. We went shopping instead and found a Coldwater Creek store, from whence I emerged with a Very Large bag of purchases. I hope I find a tolerant Customs Officer on the way home, oh boy. All the Coldwater Creek stuff fits me, fits in with my lifestyle and is not outrageously expensive. The YD’s judgement is that her father is not going to like one jacket, but too [censored] bad, is what I think.
After taking in the red rocks yesterday, we set off for a short drive up into the Front Range just for a look see. We came to a fork in the road at ? and the YD said “Which way?” “Right,” said I, on an impulse. (We had come away without the Colorado map. Or our cameras, silly us.) We got on to an excellent paved two lane road which took us across plateaus in the forest of the Pike National Forest. We drove on, exclaiming at the scenery.
Some time later it occurred to us that we did not have a clue where we were. So we asked advice from some well lubricated locals at a crossroads and were directed down the South Platte River Road, across a pass (only four miles of gravel, very good) and ended up in Sedona. From there it is a short hour’s drive back to Colorado Springs down the interstate. But it was all beautiful and we found a super restaurant for a (late) supper in Sedona. With a full tank of gas comes confidence. But I must get a map and figure out what we did do.
After I get home, you will be regaled with my pics of Pike’s Peak and the red, red rock formations. But I am now quitting, before I lose it entirely and throw this miserable machine out the window into traffic.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Life Is But A Dream

We're looking after Little Stuff again this weekend. Hence, I am too tired to write anything, but here's a pic of to-day's action.