The Caper began with an email, which I didn't get until 11:30 on Sunday when I finally turned on the computer. We had been taking it easy that weekend. A longtime hobby acquaintance was passing on a message, bewailing she hadn't time herself:
" -- Are you anywhere near the Grange Park Horse facility in Center Hall Pa.? I have some resins that need to be picked up there ASAP. We did 10 ... Clydesdales for a woman and sent them there for her at the show and now she has decided she doesn't want them! I need to get them picked up and into a safe place .... She is apparently leaving ... at noon, ... to Canada. If you are not close, do you know anyone who is? -- "
Accompanying the email were 2 photos that nailed me to my seat. One of them was this:
But if she was leaving at noon, there was no time for logistics. My husband and I read the message with unease, and regretfully passed it up. The Grange Fair was a large place, and I hadn't been there in years. I emailed the caster and gave her my phone number. I'd be home all that day, ostensibly making tack. Too bad, too bad...
The next thing that happened was my phone ringing. After that, developments flew thick and fast. Emails, calls. The woman wasn't leaving at noon, but at 2. I would turn on my cell phone. I could get there in 20 minutes. Deb would have her call me. I suggested a meeting place, the horse show arena -- the only real landmark I knew. I decided to take the truck. My husband offered his help, but I wanted to go it alone. My cell phone rang. It was the woman, who had originally ordered these horses as trophies for a Clydesdale show. She told me how to find her at the grounds: "We have just about the only motor home there. A big grey motor home..." I said I'd be there in 20 minutes, threw a lunch into the truck and took off.
I reflected on being an ambassador as I drove. You have to be nice to people, tell them good things, try to find common ground. All I had to do was collect two boxes. I tried not to panic at the possibility of error or loss. I wore my rawhide-braided cowboy hat and strolled in as though I belonged. At the bottom of the parking lot full of horse trailers (apparently there was a show going on, though not of drafters) I spotted a huge grey motor home. A man left it, wearing a jacket sporting a Canadian flag. Ahah! I said to myself, and approached him.
And he was friendly, and knew what I was after.
The woman turned out to be small, dressed in red, with short hair and snapping dark eyes. Her daughter was showing Gymkhana. She said, "I feel so bad about this!" We determined she was after another material for the trophies, one she'd ordered elsewhere but which was discontinued: a porcelain-like substance, with a glossy finish. Her job was owning and operating a ribbon and trophy company! at which I hastily observed, "That must be fun!" She smiled. "It is." I showed her my tacked-up model, eliciting a bit of interest ("A whole different kind of trophy!") and the Stone model, which resulted in a conversation about collecting, pricing, discontinued pieces and insider knowledge. When we parted she'd told me her company had taken ribbon orders for model horse shows, and she'd given me business cards made of ribbon. I tried to give her my card, but had none to hand, alas.
The Clydes made it safely home, back into the hands of the hobby.
So seriously was my responsibility impressed upon me that I took pictures of the unwrapping:
This is a very long post, but everybody wants dessert now!! I don't want to break it up, so on we go.
The next day I set up my indoor arena. Wargaming (which uses the muffin tin) was fortunately taking a break, so the big table was free.
My second draft cart was built by none other than Dave Blenkey of Nordwain, in England. Another case of being in the right place at the right time, I had snagged it at BreyerFest the moment he unpacked it.
Now the second photography problem began to manifest itself. Aggie always seemed to be travelling downhill.
I also tried unusual angles.
I had been exceedingly lucky to be in the right place at the right time. More: somehow both sides had trusted me. It had taken many friends to put me there: the first correspondent (thank you Kim!), doing business once with Deb, and knowing draft breeders (Central PA is famous for its Percherons and Shires). The whole adventure had been an astonishing coincidence: we are usually out canoeing on weekends, and what if I hadn't turned on my computer?
Location, contact, availability, interest: they had all worked together, down to the empty table.
The day of the Great Clydesdales Caper was my sister's birthday.