Monday, August 21, 2023

Towards a New Hat


This was going to be a 3-pic FB post, but it kind of ran away with me.  Still, these are mere snapshots in the middle of a process which I'm thinking will be rather long.  Let's start with a few memorable looks at my old hat, Coondoondah 13.  The below portraits were shot at Cranberry Bog, north-central PA, on July 31, by George.

 (They do a good job of showing I really was ankle-deep in the bog.  Wear swamp shoes!)

As it happens, these two pictures are the last photographs taken while my thirteenth hat was still in use and whole.  All my hats have been named Coondoondah, an Australian aborigine word meaning 'hat.'  All the ones since about 1990 have had silver and rawhide on them.  The first one to have silver conchos, which were given to me by my grandmother, was stolen in December of 2002 (the only one I've lost in such fashion).  But I was able to find more silver at the Tucson Gem Show.

Hats do wear out, especially when you don't clean them regularly, or treat their leather every year.  Also, when they get rained on and don't get re-oiled.  For the last year or so, this particular hat had been getting older and dirtier and I was so busy I didn't have time to clean it, until it reached a stage where cleaning would have destroyed it.  This close up doesn't show it, but this hat is on its last legs.

Here's a couple shots that do show it.  These were taken in the shop as evidence of which buttons were used, and the spacing of them, on the hatband.  In this first shot you can see the old stampede string of braided leather, black with age.  Yes, it broke, triggering all this.

Note, above, the missing concho on the left.  Note, below, the condition of the rawhide:  stained, shrunken and in some cases actually broken.

 Fortunately, a replacement hat was waiting.

The above shot shows the "shoelace" string that the Tilley company originally supplied the hat with (for a tie-down strap, or stampede string).  I've already cut half of it up to make small strips which will become the new keepers for the hatband.

I started out not particularly happy that Tilley had discontinued my beloved white hat color.  My favorite could not be replaced directly.  So we went with the next best choice, an off-khaki sort of color, almost olive.  When I sewed together the "shoelace" strips (above) and installed them as keepers, I started to really like this hat.  The keepers lend a classiness that the old white elastic ones just didn't have (themselves put on by me).

And then I started braiding new buttons.  Why am I not surprised that my skill is very rusty?!  But it is a great pleasure to re-learn them...  The new conchos -- I bought three Navajo ones to replace my lost one -- are bigger and have better shanks, and they have interesting new designs on them.

Coondoondah 14 is off to a good start.

Monday, August 7, 2023

My BFest 5K: Sunrises


My BreyerFest 5K races this year contained a lot of exclaiming at the Kentucky sunrises.  I had a tough time deciding on the opening shot here:  Should I use the best sunrise shot, a pic of Tachyon (who traditionally carries this role), or should I go chronologically, as my camera dictated?  Heh:  y'all get a fourth option.  Above is the start of the third day's sunrise.

A surprised friend asked whether I'd entered 3 races.  I told her the same thing happened this year as last:  Since I was running virtually, I did my course three times on 3 separate days.  I turn in the fastest.  What was charming this year was that each time I ran, I went faster.  I can't explain this.  Usually BreyerFest is an excuse to get completely out of shape!! -- worse as the week wears on.  But for whatever reason, my times for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday were faster each day.   Maybe I have X factor.

I hope that some time in the future I'll be able to run with the crowd again.  Meanwhile I'm deeply grateful to Breyer for allowing virtual runners, and so glad that turning in my time was as easy as it was.  If you're wondering why this is important (and want to see a map of where I'm talking about), here's a link to last year's 5K blog post:  My Breyerfest Virtual 5K race.

This year my first day was Tuesday.   We do have a shot of the very beginning of the first sunrise, seen from the parking lot:

The next view available is the classic one of Tachyon, my CollectA Akhal Teke mare who comes along with me for all my BreyerFest 5Ks, with my stopwatch, standing (posing!) on the course.

July 11  46:09

I remember that first sunrise as awesome.  I spent a long time staring, amazed.  I finally stepped out onto the course, a bike trail on Kentucky State University's Coldstream Campus, and started running.  The moment I was out from under the trees, the sunrise got 10 times more spectacular, a great field of red rows racing across the sky.  What a tough decision!  Should I stop, go back to the car, get the camera and shoot this, thus losing time and energy?  I kept on running,... but decided there and then to be prepared for shooting if there was a next time.

Next time was two days later, Thursday the 13th.  The sunrise was even more spectacular, and I took a movie (which did not work at all well because the camera fogged).  At least I got some stills:

I could hardly believe my eyes.  This was dynamic and very inspiring.

Six, indeed, is the hour for running.  There was almost no one else there.

The Thursday time was a minute faster. 

July 13  45:35

The third day, Saturday the 15th, was the most splendid of all.  I wish I could claim that fantastic sunrises made me run faster!  but alas, no connection can be proven...!  Here are the first glimmers through the trees.  It was like a distant fire.

Things went from good to great in a hurry.

All this because I got up early enough to dodge the heat!   I could hardly believe my eyes.  Pennsylvania rarely has anything like this.  Thank heavens for a zoom lens and enough time to catch it all.  This last shot (below) is looking east, away from my starting direction.

 I have run this course something like 6 times in the past 2 BreyerFests, but I'd never seen anything like this. 

July 15   44:36

I wound up placing 16th out of 34 for all the virtual runners, and 2nd in my (virtual) age group.  This is not "my personal best," but it is very far from a poor performance.  I am well pleased with my 5K this year.